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Intuit — Lacerte Tax Planner
From the October 2012 review of professional tax planning systems.
Best Fit: Although Lacerte Tax Planner can be used independently, integration and automated features make it even more valuable to firms using the broader tax preparation system.
- Intuitive interface and user-friendly navigation
- Direct integration with Lacerte Tax 1040
- Integration with Document Management System
- Customizable graphical reporting
- Output limited to PDF and text formats
- Does not include rates for all income taxing states
Lacerte Tax Planner provides planning, analysis and client presentation tools for projecting individual income taxes for clients out to as many as 10 years with 10 scenarios each. It includes past, current and projected rates for federal taxation, as well as for 17 states and New York City, and a generic worksheet for other states and local taxes.
The planning system comes bundled with the Lacerte Tax Analyzer and the Lacerte Document Management System, but is at its best when also used with the main tax preparation system.
Basic System Functions: 4.75 Stars
Lacerte Tax Planner can be used to manage any number of clients and supports any number of staff users. The program opens from the desktop or, when integrated with the tax compliance system, can be accessed from that system’s main toolbar.
The main interface will be familiar to users of the tax package, providing worksheet menu on the left, which shows the federal and state forms and worksheets active for the client plan currently being worked on. When working on client plans, access to information is achieved via tabs that include summary information, income, adjustments, deductions/exemptions, tax, credits, other taxes and payments.
The program offers a plan information panel that acts as both the starting point for creating new plans, as well as the entry to existing ones, providing additional tabs for determining the years of projections to be planned, how many scenarios per year, and for entering basic client and dependent data.
An icon toolbar at the top of the screen offers additional navigation options, with access to plan information, data import functions, reporting, creating new scenarios. If used in conjunction with the Lacerte Document Management System, an icon offers quick access to that utility.
During data entry and scenario testing, users can view and enter information at a summary, top-level view, which quickly shows the effects of changes to income, status, exemptions and other variables. For more detailed data entry, they can drill down to specific worksheets. In both cases, all calculations are automatically performed and displayed in real time.
The program’s Watch List and Diagnostics features remain on screen, the first providing summary totals for fields the user wants to watch, such as AMT or total tax. The diagnostics feature alerts users to overrides, carryover amounts, missing data and potential conflicts.
Core Tax Planning Features: 4.5 Stars
As noted previously, the program can be used to create as many as 10 scenarios per year for up to 10 years, and includes tools for automatically determining the optimal deductions, exemptions and the effects of AMT, alternative capital gains tax, retirement and lump sum distributions on a client’s liability.
Lacerte Tax Planner includes four types of standard analyses: A year/case analysis, difference analysis, Married Filing Jointly versus Married Filing Separately comparison, and adjustment analysis.
The system includes all past, current and projected federal tax laws and rates, including phase-outs and inflation-pegged indexes. It also offers the same for NYC and the following states: AZ, CA, CO, CN, GA, IL, IN, LA, MD, MA, MN, NJ, NY, OH, OK, OR, and WI. A customizable worksheet is available for other states and local taxes.