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Thomson Tax & Accounting — GoSystem Tax RS

From the April/May 2007 Review
of Professional Tax Preparation Systems

Used by eight of the top ten U.S. accounting firms, GoSystem Tax RS may no
longer be the only online professional tax preparation system in this annual
review of tax products, but it is still at the top of the list when it comes
to offering an exhaustingly comprehensive collection of compliance and integrated
tax research functionality. As with other high-end tax programs, GoSystem Tax
RS has support for all entities with year-end compliance at both the state and
federal level, and also supports virtually all municipalities in the United
States, with the added advantage of being a hosted solution, which frees firms
from the IT requirements associated with installation, data backup, updates
and maintenance, and enables secure remote and multi-location access.

The system is offered in various bundles or each of the specific modules can
be purchased separately. Pricing for GoSystem can vary widely depending upon
the exact needs of a firm, with full bundles that include 1040, 1041, 1065,
1120, 1120S, 706, 709, 990 and 5500 filing for large practices costing in excess
of $10,000. However, many smaller firms without that breadth of filing needs
are able to take advantage of GoSystem Tax RS through the use of various individual
components of the system, keeping costs more amenable to their practice. Thomson
Tax and Accounting, which has owned RIA for several years, has decided to drop
the name RIA from this program. However, the system is the same, and its research
integration will still be with RIA-branded research products.

Learning Curve — 4.5 Stars
As previously noted, GoSystem Tax RS is a web-based tax system that users access
through their regular browser. After logging in to the secure system, the initial
user screen opens into the Returns function, which provides filtering and search
options that are specifically focused on clients for which the current user
is authorized to work. After performing a query, the results are provided in
a spreadsheet list that includes client identifiers and group information, but
no summary return data. In addition to the search/filter function, the Return
screen also enables starting new returns and access to processing functions
and case studies. A top menu includes options for setup tasks, Help and logging

When working within a client return, users have the option of working in either
a form view or in the Organizer interview-based mode, with a subwindow opening
into two panels that provide the work area or form, along with a menu of available
forms or data-entry tasks on the left. Additionally, an icon bar across the
top offers the ability to quickly jump to common tasks including compute functions,
a return summary page, printing options and a link to the CheckPoint research
platform. Users can also easily jump between the form and interview modes by
double-clicking within a form or selecting the form from the navigation panel.
Data entry is generally intuitive and includes linking to subordinate and related
forms, worksheets and schedules, but the system does not include auto-fill entries
or smart lists, and if the Auto Compute function is not enabled, the system
does not transfer or calculate any data between forms until the Compute function
is used. The integration with CheckPoint for research is easily accessed either
from the top icon bar or on a line-specific basis. Although general navigation
within the program should be easy for most users to adapt to, training is recommended
in order to take advantage of the advanced tools within the system.

Use/Workflow & Productivity Tools — 5 Stars
GoSystem Tax RS houses an impressive array of processing and management features
designed to maximize the efficiency of firms with formal workflow and review
processes. In addition to the generally universal ability to add tick marks
and notes to form lines for attention later in a review, the system allows the
attachment of documents to returns and the ability to create links from any
location in a client return to web-based resources or another location in the
return. It also includes milestone setting functions, preparer/reviewer checklists
and an audit trail/history, along with a time log, advanced diagnostics, data
mining functions and firm-wide defaults and security controls. The system’s
online tax return conferencing also enables private collaboration sessions.
A review summary screen also provides a quick overview of a return, while all
data fields in the summary, on forms and in the Client Organizer include drilldown

For complex returns with multiple professionals involved in the process, GoSystem
Tax RS is unique in its ability to allow more than one user to access a client
return at the same time, while ensuring the integrity of the data and preventing
overwrites and incorrect data. Each user can also work within multiple client
returns at the same time. All data is sharable throughout the entire system
and all modules, so for business owners with K-1s or clients with kiddie tax
returns, the appropriate data flows automatically. GoSystem’s business compliance
capabilities are exceptional, with support for handling consolidated corporations,
partner bridging, special allocations and ExPat returns.

The system also includes online client organizers that integrate with the
system and, since GoSystem Tax RS is a web-based system, it provides users with
the benefit of being able to work or access client information while away from
the office. It also translates to fewer IT requirements and the security of
the data not being vulnerable to a fire, theft or natural disaster at the office.

Integration/Import & Export — 5 Stars
GoSystem Tax RS shares data seamlessly across its various modules and can import
client financial data from virtually any accounting package. It includes two-way
integration with Engagement CS and Fixed Assets CS, while integration with leading
document management systems is also included. Returns and other documents can
be output into PDF format with bookmarks. Through the document attachment feature,
Word and Excel files can be linked directly from a client return. Integration
with the CheckPoint research platform provides quick access to related tax information
and analysis, including TaxAlerts, which automatically identifies and notifies
the professional of clients that may be affected by pending or recently enacted

Support/Training & Help System — 5 Stars
GoSystem Tax RS provides a good array of assistive features, including line-by-line
access to Help, instructions and research, as well as case studies, tutorials,
user guides and interactive options. The company offers live and web-based training
as well as seminars throughout the country.

Relative Value — 4.5 Stars
For larger, multi-office firms or practices with very complex client returns,
GoSystem Tax RS provides the compliance tools necessary, along with review and
diagnostics functions to ensure the integrity of returns. The system is also
rich with features that aid in productivity and workflow processes, which are
essential to firms since the more complex a return is, the more complex the
process gets. GoSystem Tax RS is pricey, but it is not luxury for the sake of
luxury. It is a luxurious super-performing application whose capabilities streamline
and enhance preparation, review and management, thus strengthening and increasing
the profitability of a practice.

2007 Overall Rating — 5 Stars