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Thomson RIA — Checkpoint

From the January-March 2007 Review
of Tax Research Systems

Checkpoint is the online research offering from RIA, PPC and WG&L, including
comprehensive libraries in support of federal, state and local, and international
taxation, PPC’s Accounting & Auditing Library, as well as the incorporation
of subject material from outside sources such as the AICPA, WGL, BNA and others.
This collaboration results in a comprehensive collection of primary source documents
in addition to news coverage, rulings, analysis, case studies and expert guidance.
Checkpoint includes a variety of tools provided in an effort to enhance research
efficiency. Tools such as schedulable automatic searches, saved queries and
practice development features such as financial calculators, client letter templates
and document assembly, to name a few.

Checkpoint is a comprehensive tax research solution with a range of subscription
options suitable for both sophisticated tax practices, as well as those with
less sophisticated tax planning needs. With the recent incorporation of PPC’s
Accounting and Auditing Guidance, Checkpoint offers a solution for virtually
any accounting, auditing or tax practice. Pricing will vary widely but can start
below $1,000 for a less complex practice.

Accessed via the Windows browser, Checkpoint opens to a customizable user interface
that provides tabbed access to the user’s Home, Research, Newsstand, Tools,
Practice Development and CPE pages. The Home page is easily customized, allowing
users to set up predefined search tasks. Searches can be run from the Home page
or Research tab, which opens to a blank search keyword entry box, a resource
selection list and a thesaurus/query tool. The latter tool can be useful, especially
when looking for a related search term for expanding searches.

Searches can be performed using keywords, phrases, wildcards, citations or
other methods. Available tax research sources are presented in the form of a
categorized list, utilizing selection check boxes and expandable folders for
each of the categories offered. Categories include Editorial Materials, News/Current
Awareness, Primary Source Materials, Legislation and Archive Materials.

Checkpoint’s search results are presented in a linked listing, indicating
the (linked) resource in which information was found, which when clicked shows
a sub-listing of returned search hits from that particular resource. One additional
click provides the user with the actual returned documents, including highlighted
keywords and phrases to aid users in locating the search reference. To the left
of the main document window, Checkpoint provides additional document viewing
options and additional search tools. Documents can be viewed full-screen by
selecting the “full” icon.

CONTENT — 5 Stars
Checkpoint’s user interface is easy to learn, allowing users to quickly
understand how Checkpoint works, and providing users with the ability to quickly
perform search tasks. Checkpoint’s content is quite extensive. In addition
to exhaustive primary source materials for federal and all states, Checkpoint
offers voluminous analysis and recommendations from tax experts, access to the
PPC Tax Deskbooks and Tax Planning Guides, the Five-Minute Tax Briefing, news
coverage of tax and accounting-related legislation, rulings and other events,
Tax Watch, the BNA Daily Tax Report, AICPA reports, various journals and newsletters,
and other content.

In addition to the customizable Home page, Checkpoint provides users with a
wide variety of customization and productivity features, including the ability
to save searches and the ability to set up and run searches with results automatically
delivered at the beginning of a specified day. Checkpoint also allows users
to create and save custom research databases based upon a project, client, client
group or other similar factors. Administrative users can also set security preferences
to limit user access to various research databases and components. An add-on
feature, Tax Alerts, may be customized on a user-by-user basis, automatically
searching and notifying the tax professional when legislation or rulings occur
in an area of interest affecting the professional’s clients. Tax Alerts
evaluates the importance of the changes, including the tax form affected by
the change. Tax Alerts assist the user by offering links to related tax materials
and makes suggestions for action to be taken in addressing the tax issue. Tax
Alerts maintains a database of client letter templates that can specifically
explain an event via a notice to clients. Tax Alerts notices can be set for
delivery by e-mail or can be accessed from within Checkpoint.

Checkpoint’s Tax Alerts product integrates with the GoSystem Tax RS online
tax preparation application and InSource Express RS. Through these two tax systems,
research data can be linked to client returns and can automatically detect and
alert professionals to those clients who may be affected by tax law developments
and changes. Tax Alerts also work in conjunction with Creative Solutions’
UltraTax CS (RIA, PPC and Creative Solutions are all a part
of Thomson Tax and Accounting.) Checkpoint provides users with a wide array
of customizable client letters that are automatically populated with research
data. Checkpoint supports copy and paste functionality into Windows software.

The Checkpoint Help utility is particularly comprehensive given that Checkpoint
is an online program. The Help utility includes a full range of program use
topics, glossary, tips on saving and printing searches, FAQs, and links to RIA
support options. As an online web-based system, Checkpoint is automatically
updated by RIA as new documents and content become available.

2007 Overall Rating: 5 Stars