From the January 2006 Issue
It may be an over simplification to say that all clients are different, but
this is one of the reasons that tax preparation can be challenging. Couple this
diversity with an ever-changing tax code, and tax professionals often find themselves
in need of a professional tax research system. Tax research products have evolved
considerably over the past decade, from desktop libraries to CD-based systems,
and finally to web-based systems.
While traditional CD-based research systems are still a primary resource for
most tax professionals, their web-based siblings are rapidly catching up, in
large part due to the advantages that web-based systems can offer. Foremost
among these benefits is the automatic updating of the program by the vendor.
Since users access information over the Internet, the actual databases of research
and analysis are located on the company’s web servers, which are periodically
added to or edited by professionals on that end. No more manual CD updates,
no more making sure the right CD is being used, and no more shipping and handling
The move toward web-based research has also resulted in an expansion of research-related
offerings, such as some research vendors offering daily and weekly tax news
alerts and bulletins, which generally are available through the research program
or can be delivered by e-mail. Many CD- and web-based systems have also seen
noted improvements in integration with tax systems, improved production functions
such as saving searches and documents, and increased search efficiency.
For many firms, it is enough to simply maintain up-to-date primary source
research materials such as the Internal Revenue Code, IRS and SSA regulations
and publications, Tax Treaties, Revenue Rulings, the Penalties Handbook and
other documents. But as a firm’s clients grow, their tax needs can grow
more complex. Depreciation strategies change, and the appropriate application
of available credits and deductions can become more difficult as the professional
begins working in areas of the code that may be new to that firm. For these
professionals, keeping up with tax developments and court rulings, as well as
accessing professional explanation and analysis of the meaning of these changes,
can become crucial to the effectiveness of their client service. The product
reviews that follow identify key areas of content and use for tax research products.
Ease-of-Use/Search Routine explores navigation features,
including accessibility of primary search tools and functions, and the manner
in which research tasks are generally performed and how results of these searches
are presented to the user.
Content identifies the research libraries available within
a program, including primary federal and state sources, analysis and news content.
Customization covers the options available for users to modify
a program to better suit their needs, whether through sorting and filtering,
personalized research home pages, saving of personalized search lists or other
Integration/Output capabilities of a research system can
increase efficiency during tax season. This section observes the ability of
the software to work with tax preparation and write-up programs, as well as
the ability to attach or link saved research results to appropriate client files.
Additionally, the output capabilities of a program can be important. Therefore,
this section also addresses print, export and collaboration options.
Support & Updates are different with every vendor. Most
of these programs are web-based, so manual updates are not required. But for
CD-based systems, keeping libraries up-to-date is crucial. This section also
looks at support options within the system.
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- ATX/Kleinrock — Total Kleinrock
- The Total Kleinrock Office (TKO) bundle of tax
research products is designed to integrate with ATX’s tax products
and is included in selected tax bundles from ATX. TKO, which is available
on both CD and online to all subscribers, combines all of the tax research
offerings of the vendor.
- BNA Tax Management — Tax Management
- BNA offers both an online and CD-based version
of its Tax Management Library, which includes reference and guidance collections
for federal, state and foreign taxation, estate/gifts/trusts, and a tax
practice library of analytical materials and productivity tools.
- CCH, A Wolters Kluwer Business
— Tax Research NetWork
- CCH’s Tax Research NetWork (TRN) provides
a wide array of content available in modules, with primary source materials,
expert analysis, legal opinion and tax news.
- CFS Tax Software — Tax Research
- CFS Tax Software offers online and CD-based research
programs for federal tax, audit and collections, and a California-specific
- PPC — Federal Tax Compliance
- The Federal Tax Compliance Service (FTCS) is PPC’s
comprehensive CD-based collection of tax return preparation guidance and
- RIA — Checkpoint
- Checkpoint is the online tax research and guidance
offering from RIA, with comprehensive libraries of federal, state and
local, and international taxation resources.
- Tax Analysts — Web Services
- Tax Analysts offers a variety of tax research options,
including CD, DVD and web-based research systems.
- Tax Planning Software 2005 —
- We live in a time of constant tax change, characterized
by multiple tax acts being legislated in a single year. Recent tax legislation
includes the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004, Working Families Tax Relief
Act of 2004, Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003, Job
Creation and Worker Assistance Act of 2002, and the Economic Growth and
Tax Relief Act of 2001.
- Related Article — Firm Helps Companies
Maximize Tax Credits
- With tax planning in mind for individual clients, many
professional accountants focus on business growth planning for their corporate
clients and may be missing out on significant opportunities to save cash for
these business clients.