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CCH Tax & Accounting – ProSystem fx Planning

CCH’s ProSystem fx Planning supports multi-scenario tax planning for federal income tax and supports the following states: AL, AZ, CA, CO, CT, GA, ID, IL, IN, KS, LA, ME, MD, MI, MN, MS, MO, NE, NJ, NM, NY, NC, OH, OR, SC, UT and WV. The system allows multi-year forecasts and includes detailed calculations and customizable reporting tools. ProSystem fx Planning can be used in conjunction with CCH’s other tax and accounting products, or as a stand-alone system, and costs $400 for a single-user license.


ProSystem fx Planning opens to an
interface composed of a few pull-down
menus and a well-stocked icon toolbar
for access to most common functions.
After entry, users can create a
new plan or open existing clients
via the appropriate icons, the latter
resulting in a Windows Explorer
folder window with available client

Manual entry of client data is performed
on a spreadsheet-style grid that
opens within the master window,
showing data for each case and allowing
entry of information through 2005.
Once entered, ProSystem fx Planning
performs all calculations, enabling
users to immediately see how changes
to key input fields will affect
a client’s tax liabilities.
Through the system’s Plan
Variance Option, the program helps
users find differences that meet
a desired percentage of dollar amount
change. The system supports up to
30 tax scenarios (cases) per plan/per
year, but only three years out.
ProSystem fx Planning performs complete
federal tax calculations, including
regular tax, AMT, capital gains,
underpayment penalties, lump sum
distributions, premature distri-butions
and farm income averaging.

It also provides deduction calculations,
including the deductibility of KEOGH,
SEP, IRA and SIMPLE contributions,
phase-out contributions for itemized
deductions, personal exemptions,
and AMT exemptions. The system also
performs federal estimated tax and
penalty calculations, and produces
estimate payment vouchers as well
as state tax computations, rates,
deductions, exemptions and credits.

Among the program’s more useful
features is an AutoFlow function
that automatically transfers data
from the initial year into future,
planned years. Also, the system
allows customization of screens
to tailor the data input process
to a user’s preferences. These
preferences can be set up differently
on each workstation.

– 4.5 Stars

ProSystem fx Planning offers customizable
reporting options, including the
ability to print and view side-by-side
forecasting reports. The system
allows printing of comprehensive
multi-year forecasts including input
grids, estimates, plan summaries
and plan reports, but does not provide
a method of previewing a report
prior to printing.


The program integrates with ProSystem
fx Tax and can share limited data
with other CCH programs, greatly
assisting those who also use these
other programs. The program does
not allow data import from other
tax programs.


In addition to a strong built-in
Help utility that includes right-click
menu options and Tool Tips, ProSystem
fx Planning offers online software
updates and an online support community
linked through the Help utility
in the program that can direct users
to FAQs, customer service, product
information and contact methods.
CCH also offers toll-free telephone
support, as well as numerous training
options, including tutorials and
classroom- and web-based CPE-eligible
ses- sions.

With a spreadsheet-style interface,
ProSystem fx Planning is easy to
learn and navigate and provides
ample assistance in its help features.
Through its integration with other
ProSystem fx products, in particular
the tax preparation software, ProSystem
fx Planning offers a solid system
for helping clients prepare for
and minimize future tax liabil-
ities. Because of this inte- gration,
the system is best suited to firms
already running CCH’s tax
prep- aration application, but would
provide good sup- port for users
of other programs without a planning


For the products in this review section, we looked at five key areas that users and vendors stated were of primary concern:

Program Use/Data Entry
As with any software, the ease with which the program’s functions can be operated and the amount of time it takes to grow accustomed to a tax planning program affect its value in a professional setting. This section looks at general navigation and data entry, as well as more specific functions such as calculations, the number of plans/scenarios the program supports, comparisons offered and additional productivity tools such as diagnostics and checklists.

Reporting is one of the key components of a tax planning program, allowing professionals to provide clients with a comprehensive, yet comprehendible, assessment of how financial activities may affect future tax liabilities. This component assesses a program’s ability to provide summary and detailed reports as well as client-deliverables such as graphs, *.PDFs and client letters. The customizability of these reports and communications also adds value to a program by enabling a user to brand and personalize client contact.

Import/Export Capabilities
As a starting point, almost all data needed for the base year of a plan has already been entered into a tax preparation program ‘ there’s no need to enter it twice, especially with complex clients. Thus, the ability of a program to pull client financial data from at least its sibling tax preparation program, if not competing programs, is essential. Further integration with outside programs such as Excel and Word further aid in the usefulness of the tax planning application.

Help, Training & Support
While not needing technical support is always preferred, its availability is important. This section looks at how the program provides assistance to users through built-in help utilities, tutorials, online support centers and general functionality, in addition to optional training programs offered by the vendor.

Relative Value
This is the ‘Bang for your Buck’ section ‘ the reviewer’s subjective opinion of how closely the software’s value to a practitioner matches its cost. Because every practice is different, this section generally identifies what kind or size of firm would benefit the most from it, in recognition that large and small firms often see things very differently when it comes to their IT expenses.

Overall Rating
Finally, the overall rating gives an overview of how a product scored in each of the identified categories, and is the average of those scores rounded to the nearest half-star.