2012 Review of CCH ProSystem fx Planning

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CCH, a Wolters Kluwer business — ProSystem fx Planning
800-739-9998
CCHGroup.com

From the October 2012 review of professional tax planning systems.

Best Fit: Professional accounting and tax practices seeking a planning system that integrates

directly with ProSystem fx Tax and other programs in the ProSystem fx Suite.

Strengths

  • Direct integration with ProSystem fx Tax and Engagement
  • Ability to prepare up to 30 side-by-side scenarios
  • Intuitive spreadsheet-based interface
  • Automated calculations

Potential Limitations

  • Limited integration with outside programs
  • Reporting output to only PDF format

ProSystem fx Planning is a part of CCH’s larger suite of professional tax, accounting and practice management systems, of which many systems are available in web-based versions. Planning, however, is an installed program that can be used in conjunction with ProSystem fx tax and other products in the suite, or as a stand-alone program.

It includes multi-year projection functions and calculations for AMT, capital gains and phase-ins and phase-outs. It includes tax rates, deductions, exemptions and credits for many states.

Basic System Functions: 4.5 Stars

After initial installation and guided setup functions on tabbed screens, the program’s primary interface opens to a workspace that resembles Excel, with spreadsheet functionality for reviewing multiple tax scenarios quickly on a single screen.

A new navigation bar makes it easy to jump directly to input grids or tax worksheets. The toolbar can be positioned where the user prefers it, or it can be toggled off. The system’s original toolbar at the top of the screen offers options for importing client data from ProSystem fx Tax, copying and pasting cases or years, adding notes to plans and specific fields, and drilling down to worksheets and other functions. Users can tailor the toolbar to include links.

When viewing client plans, cases and years are displayed in columns, while tax information categories are in rows that include income, AGI, deductions, credits and other items. The system automatically performs calculations as data is entered, and transfers totals as appropriate.

ProSystem fx Planning can be used by any number of staff in the same firm, and can be used to manage any number of clients. Password security options are available at the client level. Client selection screens are limited in search and filter capabilities, since the system uses the Windows Explorer file structure.

Core Tax Planning Features: 4.75 Stars

ProSystem fx Planning now supports up to ten years of projections (prior year, current and eight forward) for up to 30 tax scenarios or cases, with each of the years and cases presented side-by-side on screen. The program’s core capabilities include calculations of regular, AMT and capital gains taxes, as well as under payment penalties, taxes on lump sum distributions and premature distributions from retirement plans, as well as farm income averaging. Recently added is automatic calculation of Medicare and FICA/Tier 1 RRTA tax withholding when wages are entered.

Additional calculations include phase-outs and phase-ins for itemized deductions, personal exemptions and AMT exemptions, taxpayer filing status changes, limitation and carry-forward calculations, and calculation of the deductibility of contributions to IRAs, KEOGHs, and Simple and SEP plans.

Integrated state income tax computations, including state tax rates, deductions, exemptions and credits, are included for AL, AZ, CA, CO, CT, GA, ID, IL, IN, KS, LA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, NC, NE, NJ, NM, NY, OH, OR, SC, UT and WV.

Reporting: 4 Stars

ProSystem fx Planning enables printing of plan forecasts and components, including worksheets, input grids, plan summaries and estimates. Client-deliverable reports offer limited customization of table data, but not the ability to add charts or other visual elements. Documents can be saved to PDF format. Other output includes all federal 1040 worksheets and those for supported states, as well as estimated payment vouchers.

Portals are not native to the Planning system, but they are available for client collaboration via integration with ProSystem fx Portal, Engagement, Document and other CCH programs.

Import/Export/Integration: 4 Stars

ProSystem fx Planning integrates directly with ProSystem fx Tax and other solutions in the suite, including the SaaS versions. The program also offers some integration with Microsoft Office programs, and users can import data from the web-based portfolio management system, GainsKeeper Pro. Unless using the system in conjunction with other CCH programs, reporting output is limited to PDF format.

Help/Support:  4.75 Stars

Built-in help utilities include right-click menus, field-specific guidance, how-to’s, a tutorial and access to the online support site. This site includes additional documentation, a knowledgebase and training options, as well as program updates. Users are also notified of program updates and tax news via e-fxNews alerts.

The program is designed for use on Windows operating systems (XP, Vista, 7). Live technical support is included in program pricing.

Summary & Pricing

ProSystem fx Planning is a good add-on when integrated with the tax compliance system, but can be used as a stand-alone program, providing automated calculations for complex scenario testing for 1040 clients of any nature. The system costs $675 for a single user license.

2012 Overall Rating: 4.5 Stars

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