BNA Software produces a variety of corporate fixed asset management and professional tax planning solutions, as well as tax preparation systems for estate and gift tax reporting. The BNA Estate & Gift Tax 706 Preparer and 709 Preparer programs are available individually for federal estate and gift tax compliance, as well as for computing estate, inheritance and gift taxes for all 50 states and D.C. The 706 program costs $695 for a single user, with additional licenses at $265 each. The 709 system is $430; $80 for additional licenses. The optional state form modules (AZ, CA, FL and TX) are $125 each, with additional licenses at $62.50 each.
Learning Curve – 5 Stars
These two programs run independently of each other, but share a common database that enables sharing of preparer information. They are designed using the same general interface that provides a form menu on the left for moving between pages of either form, as well as supporting documents and worksheets such as 706’s Taxable Gift Worksheet and 709’s Schedules A, B and C. The primary working space within the programs provides a replica of the actual form, although data is actually entered into a worksheet-style pane immediately below the form. Although not allowing direct data entry, the form does allow some interactivity: When clicking on a line of the form, the data-entry area automatically moves to that data-entry field, and information can be directly keyed in. The data populates the form after a section is completed.
The programs also provide a Diagnostics and Data Validation window at the bottom of the screen. Among the feature icons located at the top of the screen, both systems include forward and back navigation buttons for moving between data-entry sections, as well as icons for running diagnostics and validation processes. All of the panels within the window are moveable and re-sizeable, and the system allows customization of the size of the form for viewing. The interface shared by both systems is easy to understand and navigate, and is functional, allowing simplified access to all of a client’s related forms, as well as easy access to program features and on-screen diagnostics. The systems also provide right-click field-specific help, including access to IRS line instructions.
Use/Workflow & Productivity Tools – 5 Stars
Both programs streamline the preparation process of their particular form by performing appropriate calculations, transferring data when appropriate, and adding schedules and continuation schedules as needed. Additionally, users can set up Return Sets, which are essentially form templates that can be pre-arranged to include specific combinations of forms, schedules and reports. This enables a full set of client documents to be prepared and printed easily, while allowing for easy client-specific customization of client letters and instructions. Both programs allow users to attach notes or attachments to form fields, aiding in the preparation and review process.
As well as sharing many functions, each program provides several features specific to its return. The 709 Preparer includes a Donee Worksheet that centralizes input of donee information and then applies it to each gift received by that donee. The 709 system also automatically allocates annual exclusions and provides a report of these allocations that details how the limitation of the annual exclusion is applied when dealing with multiple gifts or large gifts to a donee. This helps better track exclusions, and the program alerts the user when the maximum for a donee has been exceeded. It also can automatically post split gift information and directly import split gifts from a client’s spouse’s 709.
The 706 program automatically prepares the Estate Tax Closing document, Probate Inventory Report and reports documenting computation of state death taxes. It also calculates Split Interest Charitable Trusts; Prior Transfers Credit; Interrelated Marital/Charitable calculations; and Schedule B stocks, bonds, dividends and interest. The system’s distribution of community property assets and deductions is automatic, with half of a community property’s value placed on a separate line of each schedule. The Beneficiaries Calculation Report provides a breakdown of how beneficiaries’ amounts are derived. Using a web-based update feature, the 706 program automatically keeps Sec. 7520 rates consistent with the latest monthly rate.
Integration/Import & Export – 4 Stars
New for TY2004, the 706 program offers linking with BNA Tax Management EGT Web Portfolios. Because the systems store information in the same database, the estate and gift tax programs are able to share preparer information as necessary. The 706 program now imports valuation data from EstateVal by EVP or APPRAISE by Evaluation Services, Inc.
Support/Training & Help System – 5 Stars
Both programs provide line-specific help and IRS instructions, as well as links to BNA’s online Knowledge Center, which provides FAQs and analysis of tax code legislation. Toll-free telephone technical support is provided at no extra charge. The company offers web-based training, as well as local and regional seminars, and provides product demonstration seminars to prospective users. Additionally, free demo versions of the programs are available online. The programs can be set to automatically check for program updates.
Product Evolution & Vendor Vision – 4.5 Stars
BNA Software is more known for its corporate-level fixed asset management, sales tax and professional tax planning systems, but has realized success through its two niche tax preparation products, BNA 706 Preparer and BNA 709 Preparer. The 706 program began offering optional state form modules in May of 2004 and is just about to release New York, which will bring their total to five (NY, CA, FL, TX and AZ), with more to come. And for users of BNA Management EGT Web Portfolios, appropriate items throughout the 706’s Help system now conveniently link to the appropriate Tax Management Portfolio. This new linking feature saves time and increases efficiency by providing immediate access to code, regs and quality analysis, without ever having to leave the application.
Relative Value – 5 Stars
BNA Software’s 706 and 709 Preparer programs offer excellent support for estate and gift tax compliance, providing good diagnostics that are specifically geared toward these returns, as well as automated reports and auto-generation of continuation schedules whose subtotals are automatically posted back to the original schedule. Although there are many tax suites that include estate and gift tax compliance, these programs are primarily geared toward individual and business tax compliance. For estate planners, tax experts and legal professionals not needing a full tax preparation suite, these two programs offer the benefit of being specifically designed for these fields, by a company that also specializes in them.
2005 Overall Rating – 5 Stars