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Thomson RIA — GoSystem RS

From the April/May 2006 Review of
Tax Prep Suites

RIA’s GoSystem Tax RS is at the pinnacle of tax preparation systems,
providing a comprehensive online solution that spans the compliance spectrum
and provides exceptional integration with RIA’s renowned research products.
The program continues to be the only fully web-based professional tax solution
offered by a major vendor, a feature that makes GoSystem RS
ideally suited to multi-office practices or those needing the remote capabilities
of an online system. But another valuable feature of online applications is
that all system updates are performed automatically by RIA, which helps ensure
that a tax firm is always using the most complete and up-to-date version. Each
of the system’s modules can be purchased individually or in bundled packages.
The program is generally not geared toward smaller practices because of its
high-end capabilities and price, which would be about $15,000 for a firm meeting
the needs of our prototype practice (see
), which the company said does not meet the typical needs of the vendor’s
customers. However, as the company also noted, many small practices find exceptional
value in selected use of the system modules through productivity and workflow
management enhancement. Additionally, unmarketed discounts and packages may
be available.

Learning Curve — 4 Stars
The web-based GoSystem Tax RS system is accessed through a secure web browser,
although the system performs in almost every other way as a traditional server
application, with icons, pull-down menus and a primary start screen that allows
users to search for existing returns or begin a new one, as well as accessing
administrative and processing functions, viewing case studies, using the Help
utility and other options. The client return finder includes multiple filters
and search options, including limiting by tax year, return/entity type, name
and recently worked on returns. Data entry is performed on either form replicas
or on organizer worksheets, both of which provide tabs for moving between pages
and sections of returns, with other available forms accessible via a menu on
the left side of the work area. These general design components provide an intuitive
working environment, although because of GoSystem’s significant capabilities
and ability to handle the most complex returns, full proficiency with the program
would be aided by use of an in-house or vendor-led formalized training program.

Use/Workflow & Productivity Tools — 5 Stars
Where to begin? GoSystem Tax RS is an exceptionally powerful tax compliance
system that give users very strong data management, storage, access and collaboration
tools, in addition to the advantages provided by a web-based system: mobile
access, less IT requirements and always-updated programs. GoSystem Tax RS also
includes online return conferencing and online client organizers that sync data
into the tax system. Data entry is aided by several functions within the system,
including smartlists and data linking to supporting forms, schedules and worksheets.
And review processes are outstanding, with tickmarks, review notes, and preparer
and reviewer checklists and on-screen diagnostics, as well as an audit trail
that tracks every change in any amount in every return.

The program further simplifies the preparation process by providing a tax
summary screen that shows an at-a-glance overview of the client return complete
with the ability to drill down to supporting documents. Security protocols are
similarly strong, with access restrictable by user, type of return or activity,
and also enabling multiple users to access and work on a client return simultaneously
while ensuring that no data is overwritten. Individual users can even open and
work in multiple returns at the same time, which can assist when comparing treatments.
The program also lets users attach documents to client returns or create customized
links to any part of a return.

The program automatically computes and transfers data as needed throughout
the tax modules, including the sharing of K-1 data between business returns
and individual partner/shareholder returns. Complex returns are easily accommodated,
with the program automatically including 1065 reconciliation schedules and offering
tools to track amounts assigned to each member of a consolidation, including
access to amounts for all entities and subsidiaries. The system also offers
strong capabilities when handling expatriate returns, with custom tax equalization
and automatic flow of the foreign tax credit from 1041 K-1s to 1116. Users can
directly access RIA’s Checkpoint tax research system from within the tax
application and can attach links to specific tax documents to affected clients
or data fields, with notes for reviewers. The program can output to true Adobe
*.PDF format with bookmarks without the need for the full Adobe program.

Integration/Import & Export — 5 Stars
GoSystem Tax RS offers exceptional internal integration, with data flowing throughout
the system’s modules as needed, and the integration of Checkpoint research
components is beneficial, especially the ability to attach links to research
or analysis findings directly to client returns. The program includes a trial
balance bridge and can import from *.DIF files, and also can import and share
data with several trial balance and reporting packages. It also integrates with
other Thomson company products including Creative Solutions, as well as with
BNA and Sage Software’s asset management systems. As well, it integrates
with third-party applications from Caseware, Fi-Tek, SurePrep, GoFileRoom and
Documentum. RIA offers client data conversions for users of Lacerte and ProSystem
fx Tax.

Support/Training & Help System — 5 Stars
Many web-based programs are light on their built-in Help utilities, but the
GoSystem Tax RS system is an exception, providing numerous assistive tools that
include easy access to form instructions, line- and content-sensitive Help,
tutorials and user guides. The program also contains a library of case studies
that can be used for training purposes. RIA offers various training and seminar

Product Evolution & Vendor Vision — 5 Stars
RIA continues to add features that strengthen GoSystem Tax RS and is also pursuing
increased integration functionality, primarily with other Thomson programs.
The company has also continued its efforts to keep the program intuitive without
reducing its power.

Relative Value — 4.5 Stars
GoSystem Tax RS is priced at the high end because it is arguably the most powerful,
comprehensive professional tax preparation system on the market. The system
excels at handling extremely complex returns and also shines with its review
process management and productivity measurement utilities. As such, the program
is geared toward firms with clients whose returns are extensive and where the
practice can benefit from the reduced strain on IT resources by implementing
an online tax solution. Practices with these characteristics
will benefit the most from GoSystem Tax RS through streamlined processes and
increased productivity.

2006 Overall Rating — 5 Stars