From the Jan./Mar. 2008 Review of
Tax Research Systems
The Checkpoint system is one of the most comprehensive online research programs
on the market, providing access to virtually all of the tomes of tax and legal
research materials produced by the Thomson Corporation’s various entities,
including RIA, PPC and WG&L; third-party content from providers such as
BNA, AICPA, GASB, FASB, PCAOB, IBFD; as well as libraries of source documents
from the IRS, SSA, court rulings and international treaties.
Along with these resources, Checkpoint provides authoritative guidance and practical
advice on individual and corporate taxation and other areas. Other features
available through the Checkpoint system include tax and accounting news updates,
various calculators, interactive checklists, client letter templates, sales
tax rate lookups, practice development tools and CPE-eligible training sessions.
Checkpoint is very modular, with practices selecting the specific libraries
and feature sets they need. Pricing starts around $1,000 per year. (The vendor
noted that because the system is so customizable and modular, actual pricing
may start well below $1,000 or begin at a higher range, depending on content
subscribed to and number of users.)
EASE-OF-USE/SEARCH ROUTINE — 5 Stars
Opening into the totally customizable My Checkpoint home screen, the online
tax and accounting research system lets users perform basic searches, set up
quick links to selected titles, view breaking tax and accounting-related headlines,
or access training options. Several tabs across the top of the screen provide
access to a more comprehensive Newsstand, Tools, Practice Development and CPE
options, while the Research tab obviously houses the system’s primary
Checkpoint’s search capabilities are exhausting in breadth, but options
are provided in a well-designed check-box oriented screen that helps to maintain
the usability of the program. The Research screen lets users search either a
broad category of content (editorial, news, primary source, legislation), or
view the specific libraries that are contained in these categories. Each of
the specific libraries can be expanded to allow the user to drilldown to select
specific topics or sections from the library content in which to search. Additional
navigation functions are available in a vertical menu that offers Keyword Searching,
Find by Citation, Date Ranges, Legislation searches and access to the WG&L
Tax Dictionary. Checkpoint also provides a Thesaurus/Query Tool to help find
related subject matter. Search results are displayed as links divided by the
library in which the information exists, with quick access to the documents.
When viewing the documents, the system highlights all instances of the search
term, making it easy to find the pertinent materials, while an array of tools
allows users to easily print, export, save or e-mail their findings. Checkpoint’s
Bill Tracker feature also allows users to quickly determine if there is pending
federal legislation related to their search topic The Bill Tracker is also available
for state and local legislation. Users can save searches or schedule them to
recur automatically, and the system maintains a History log of search events.
CONTENT — 5 Stars
Whether looking for primary source materials on federal, state, local or international
accounting and taxation, or searching for guidance and explanation of tax law,
Checkpoint offers virtually everything. In addition to IRS publications and
Rulings, IR Code, Tax Treaties, Treasury Regs and Committee Reports, the system
also offers federal tax cases, current and pending legislation, BNA Daily Tax
Reports, Weekly Alert newsletters, and dozens of publications from RIA and PPC.
This includes the Federal Tax Coordinator, WG&L Journals, Federal Tax Compliance
Library, Tax Desk, WG&L Treatises, BNA Income Portfolios, PPC’s Five-Minute
Tax Briefing, RIA’s Tax Watch and many others.
CUSTOMIZATION — 5 Stars
Checkpoint offers excellent customization options that allow users to quickly
and easily set up their My Checkpoint home page based on the practice areas
they serve, in addition to tailoring searches and setting up queries to run
automatically or saving searches for future reuse. Additional customization
options are available throughout the program, helping to streamline searches
and general use.
INTEGRATION/OUTPUT — 5 Stars
Checkpoint can directly integrate with Thomson’s GoSystem Tax RS, InSource
Express RS and UltraTax CS professional tax preparation systems, with the ability
to link research findings such as case rulings or analysis to specific client
returns. Options such as Tax Alerts provide even further integration capabilities,
allowing users to set up topical searches based on client data that proactively
keep the user on top of legislation or other factors that could affect a client.
Checkpoint provides excellent output options, including export to Word, simple
text copying and pasting, and direct e-mailing of contents from within the system.
The program also includes a basic time tracking feature that can log time spent
by staff while performing research, and then can export the data into time management
systems or to other file formats.
SUPPORT & UPDATES — 5 Stars
The online program is generally intuitive and has easy-to-use customization
features, while also providing a good built-in Help system that offers good
overviews of all program features, as well as search options and other functions.
Thomson automatically updates the online system.
2008 Overall Rating: 5 Stars