2013 Review of CCH ProSystem fx Planning

Best Fit: Firms using other components of the ProSystem fx Suite or CCH Axcess Tax that take advantage of the direct integration.

Strengths

  • Imports tax data from ProSystem fx Tax and CCH Axcess Tax
  • The license allows for an unlimited number of users at a firm location
  • Interactive tutorial and ample help resources

Potential Limitations

  • Only produces spreadsheet-type reports (no graphs or charts)
  • Reporting output limited to PDF files (no direct exports to Excel or other programs)

The ProSystem fx Suite from CCH offers integrated applications for tax and accounting firms. While CCH also has cloud-based solutions known as CCH Axcess, for now Planning is only a network or locally installed program which can import tax data from either ProSystem fx Tax or CCH Axcess Tax. However, plans can be created manually for firms not using the CCH suites.

Basic System Functions: 4.75 Stars

The program’s primary interface is in a familiar spreadsheet format and users can enter information using various grids and worksheets. The cell backgrounds and text are color-coded, for example, grey backgrounds indicate a calculated field, overridden amounts are in magenta and negative amounts are in red. The program automatically calculates totals as data is entered. Planning years are displayed in columns, and the AutoFlow option can be toggled to copy data from the current column to consecutive years (not to be confused with the AutoFlow part of ProSystem fx Scan).

The program’s toolbar can be customized by adding, removing, or reordering buttons. On the left, the program uses a folder structure similar to Windows Explorer to organize types of tax data, and are indicated with a red asterisk when a folder or grid contains data. Users can create embedded notes (comments) for cells within the program’s spreadsheets and also print those notes. Individual plans can be password protected.

Core Tax Planning Features: 4.5 Stars

CCH ProSystem fx Planning supports up to 30 cases per tax plan, and 10 planning years per case (previous year, current year, and up to 8 future years). Among the tax computations the program addresses are alternative minimum tax, passive loss limitations, lump-sum distributions, and kiddie tax. When wages are entered, the program automatically calculates Medicare and FICA/Tier 1 RRTA tax withheld.

CCH ProSystem fx Planning calculates CA, NY and generic AGI state tax based on pre-configured or user-defined data. It also has pre-configured state tax rates, deductions, exemptions and credits for: AL, AZ, CO, CT, GA, ID, IL, IN, KS, LA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MS, MO, NE, NJ, NM, NC, OH, OR, SC, UT and WV. This fall, CCH plans to add additional states to the planning product.

Reporting: 4.25 Stars

The program is capable of printing plan summaries and cases, with options to customize those reports with dollar variances, percentage variances, footers and date/time stamps. It can also print estimated tax worksheets and payment vouchers, including those for supported states. Though the program can print a wide range of table data, it does not create charts or other visual elements. Electronic output is limited to PDF format.

Import/Export/Integration: 4 Stars

ProSystem fx Planning can import tax data from either ProSystem fx Tax or CCH Axcess Tax. In addition, it can import Schedule D information from GainsKeeper Pro, CCH’s web-based portfolio management tool. ProSystem fx Planning can print reports to a ProSystem fx Engagement binder (only if Engagement is installed). Otherwise, the program’s output options are limited to PDF files.

Help/Support: 5 Stars

The license fee includes unlimited telephone and web support, which includes a searchable knowledgebase and live chat. From a menu within the program, users can contact support, open the knowledgebase, or start a remote support session with one of CCH’s support representatives. There is a comprehensive built-in help menu that is searchable, as well as a PDF instruction guide. The program includes an interactive tutorial that should be very helpful for new users.

Summary & Pricing

Firms using the ProSystem fx or CCH Axcess suites may want to consider the planning product due to the integration benefits, though it can be used as a standalone program for estimating tax for clients with complex tax situations. The software costs $716 for either a standalone or network installation for any number of users within a licensed firm location. There is no additional charge for states.

2013 Overall Rating: 4.5 Stars

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