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Tax Systems Offer Trial Balance Options

In this section (2009 Review of Engagement
& Trial Balance Systems
), we have reviewed several products that are
stand-alone engagement/trial balance products that are very useful for firms,
but you may be saying “I don’t need a stand-alone product to meet
my trial balance needs.” Your firm may concentrate primarily on tax returns,
and you don’t want to learn a different software package. Well this section
is just for you.

There are several options for your firm. Many tax preparation vendors have
add-on modules or products that integrate directly into the tax preparation
software. This allows a seamless integration of the trial balance and the tax
return. It also allows your firm to keep the trial balance and the tax return
in the same software application. That is a nice feature when you are trying
look up information from last year’s tax return. It is also nice when
you bring in a new staff member because it takes much less time to get them
trained and ready to be productive and billable.

The tax vendor trial balance packages have a lot of the standard features
that the stand-alone packages have, but they don’t have the electronic
storage and workflow features of the stand-alone packages. Let’s focus
on what these packages have to offer:

Since these programs are not as sophisticated as some of the stand-alone engagement/trial
balance packages, they are fairly simple to learn and easy to maintain. An untrained
professional can sometimes get “lost” and frustrated in the stand-alone
packages, but these programs allow you to get the job done without having to
jump through any policies and procedures. The user interfaces of such packages
are also very intuitive because the users are already familiar with them.

Similar to the stand-alone engagement and trial balance packages, it is simple
to import trial balance data from almost any accounting system. Most of these
trial balance add-ons have QuickBooks utilities and allow users to import trial
balances via spreadsheet imports.

Once the trial balance data is loaded to the software package, integration
to the tax return is normally a very easy process. This is where the “rubber
meets the road.” Since data entry is the primary time component in preparing
a tax return, the vendors have focused on this process extensively.

Additionally, these trial balance packages are full of standard reporting
features that firms want and need. Some packages even allow for customized reporting.

As you can see, these trial balance add-ons are suited best for tax return
preparation and normally have a lower cost of ownership. Below is a listing
of some of the vendors that provide these solutions. Hopefully one of these
applications will be able to fit your firm’s needs and desires.

Tax Vendors with Trial Balance Modules/Add-Ons

Intuit Lacerte
Lacerte Trial Balance Utility

CCH Small Firm Services
ATX Trial Balance

CCH Small Firm Services
TaxWise Trial Balance

RedGear Technologies
TaxWorks Trial Balance

Drake Software
Drake Tax