From the Jan./Mar. 2008 Review of
Tax Research Systems
The Tax Research NetWork (TRN) from CCH is a comprehensive research and tax
information suite that includes federal, state, local and international primary
source materials and guidance, along with current tax news and analysis. The
web-based system allows practices to integrate this data and TRN tools like
CCH@Hand into their tax, accounting and Microsoft Office applications, allowing
for quick access to information. Several modules are available through TRN,
permitting professional firms to select the key topics and tools needed to support
their clients and with pricing dependent upon their subscription. Base pricing
starts at about $500, with add-on modules starting at $199.
EASE-OF-USE/SEARCH ROUTINE — 5 Stars
TRN’s modules are accessible via several different ways, with the primary
TRN online search function opening in the user’s web browser to a tabbed
interface that provides a customizable main screen called the My CCH Favorites,
which can include items from CCH’s Tax Tracker News and other sources.
Other tabs include options for searching news and documents related to specific
areas, such as Audit, Federal and State Tax, Estate, Payroll, and other options.
Each of these areas, or Libraries, provides additional sub-sections that let
users quickly search those topics by the type of source, including primary documents
like the Internal Revenue Code, rulings, cases, tax treaties, analysis or the
CCH Master Tax Guide. Users can easily set favorite resources or save frequently
needed searches that will be incorporated onto the My CCH tab. Users can also
access the research system using CCH@Hand or Log-In Express.
The online search system’s interface provides a field for performing
quick searches, and it includes buttons for accessing other areas of TRN, including
the Citator, Keep List, Citation Search and Help features. Search results are
presented to the user via a table of contents layout or in a document list.
Documents open into a separate screen that provides simplified copying, citation
and other tools.
The navigation bar at the top of the screen provides a centralized point for
performing searches and accessing frequently used search tools. CCH has done
a good job with slightly modifying the interface this year to help streamline
processes and make navigation more intuitive. Search screens let users sort
items by date or relevance and predetermine the maximum number of results to
return. A thesaurus feature is also provided to help strengthen searches. CCH
also supports advanced search techniques, such as citing where terms must be
in relationship with each other (within three paragraphs or sentences, for example),
which also greatly narrows hits to the most relevant findings.
CONTENT — 5 Stars
Users can access an immense collection of libraries, tools, practice aids and
other resources through Tax Research NetWork’s various add-on modules,
including IRS Rulings, cases, tax treaties, BNA’s Portfolios, Aspen-Miller
accounting and audit guides, state source documents, and a variety of tax news
sources. The system’s daily Tax Tracker and Smart Charts also enable users
to stay on top of legislation that could affect clients’ tax treatments.
TRN’s Practice Aids and Lookup Tables include FinEst Calcs, Client Letter
and Depreciation Toolkits, Interactive Research Aids, Topic Navigator, ZipSales
Lookup, IRS Actuarial Factors and a Tax Calendar. Users can access a library
of more than 13,000 federal, state and local tax forms and instructions. New
modules available through Tax Research NetWork include the FIN48 Manager, Internal
Controls Library, Worldwide Tax Rates and Answers – Europe, Not-for-Profit
Compliance Module, Liquor Law Reporter, Podcasts on hot industry topics, New
Selection of Audio Conferences, and the Business Incentives Manager.
CUSTOMIZATION — 5 Stars
TRN’s customizable home page allows users to set up automatic searches
and bring up items through Tax Tracker news that are specifically related to
their area of practice and their client base. News sources and hits are accessible
from this tab, while still keeping other areas of the program easily reachable.
Additional customization features extend to CCH@Hand, as well as to the saving
of searches and histories.
INTEGRATION/OUTPUT — 5 Stars
With CCH@Hand, TRN can integrate with Word and Excel, allowing users to easily
perform searches while working within those programs and to simply copy and
paste findings from the research system. Additionally, documents and citations
from TRN can be output to Word or PDF formats. Links to the findings can also
be sent to other TRN users. For users of CCH’s ProSystem fx programs,
CCH’s Client Relate tool is an amazing feature, acting as a bridge that
unites tax and accounting clients with the research system. Professionals can
then quickly run searches based on client areas, with the system automatically
noting which clients may be affected by pending legislation or other issues.
SUPPORT & UPDATES — 5 Stars
TRN is exceptionally user friendly, and its customization options further this,
providing a search system that is intuitive and including powerful tools. The
web-based solution offers good built-in Help features, along with a reorganized
Support tab on the interface that offers access to more in-depth assistance
regarding searches and usage of other program features, as well as various tips
to help users perform smarter searches. Support is included in program pricing.
2008 Overall Rating: 5 Stars