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Lacerte Software — Lacerte Tax Planner

From the November 2005 Review of Tax
Planning Software

The Lacerte Tax Planner provides comprehensive federal and state income tax
planning that features multiple-scenario and multi-year planning, allowing users
to project future tax liabilities and provide clients with graphical reports
that show how they can best minimize those liabilities. States supported include
AZ, CA, CO, CT, GA, IL, IN, LA, MA, MD, MN, NJ, NY, OH, OK, OR and WI. The program
also offers a generic state that includes common adjustments for each (generic)
State, and includes all of the state- specific tax tables, standard deductions
and exemption amounts. The Lacerte Tax Planner costs $415.

Char Mano has been using Lacerte since 1990, which is what drove the firm
to select the Lacerte Tax Planner. Mano’s firm is a four-employee LLC
that has been in business for about 16 years. The firm does approximately 350
individual tax returns per year in addition to a “boatload” of business/estates.
Mano says the most beneficial aspect of the program is “the detailed analysis
at a fraction of the cost of other programs with good transfer from the 1040
package to the tax planner.” Mano also notes that the program has a lot
of functionality that most users don’t take advantage of.

Program Use/Data Entry — 5 Stars
The Tax Planner interface is easy to understand and navigate. It features traditional
menus at the top, followed by an icon-populated toolbar, which is followed by
a set of tax category tabs that open to windows where tax data entry can be
performed. The category tabs provide access to a Summary view, followed by screens
for detailed input of Income, Adjustments, Deductions/Exemptions, Tax, Credits,
Other Taxes and Payment information. Within each category tab screen, the Lacerte
Tax Planner provides a worksheet tree to the far left that lists each sub-worksheet
that is linked to that particular tax data screen.

Lacerte Tax Planner screens are organized in a familiar row-and-column spreadsheet-based
interface that supports drill-down access to forms and sub-worksheets, one-click
MFS/MFJ comparisons and other data-entry productivity tools. The program also
provides very helpful add, delete, forward and back navigation buttons. Lacerte
Tax Planner offers a Watch List at the bottom of the screen that permits users
to select key fields to monitor, keeping them in view at all times. The Watch
List allows users to immediately see how data or filing changes affect the on-screen

To speed manual data entry, Lacerte Tax Planner features a Copy Column feature
via the transfer of data to any other column in a worksheet. The Lacerte Tax
Planner also supports the attachment of notes to any field. Up to 10 multiple-case
scenarios are supported over as many as 10 years, with four basic types (or
styles) of tax plans: Case/Year Analysis, MFS/MFJ Comparison, Difference Analysis,
and Adjustment Analysis. Lacerte Tax Planner is very comprehensive and includes
all planned law phase-outs, future changes to tax and deduction rates, IRA contribution
limits, and other items such as capital gains tax rates. An Inflation Rate feature
for estimating items like standard deductions that are traditionally indexed
by inflation is included. The program does not support non-resident state income
tax calculations, but it does include a built-in diagnostics function, which
alerts the user to carryover items or overrides within a tax plan.

Reporting — 4.5 Stars
Lacerte Tax Planner provides a variety of report templates together with the
ability to create customized reports, featuring user-defined items such as headers,
footers, cover sheets and instruction letters. Custom charts and graphs can
also be created. Lacerte Tax Planner can generate reports in *.PDF format, allowing
simplified e-mailing of plans to clients and integration with document management

Import/Export Capabilities — 4.5 Stars
Lacerte Tax Planner integrates seamlessly with the Lacerte 1040 tax program.
All 1040 tax data is transferred and is fully accessible via drill-down to detail.

Help/Training & Support — 5 Stars
The program includes an indexed, built-in Help utility with search, online support
tools including FAQs, and toll-free telephone and e-mail-based technical support.
Lacerte also offers a variety of training programs, which include tutorials,
seminars throughout the country and webinars.

2005 Overall Rating: 5 Stars