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The Tax & Accounting Business of Thomson Reuters — Checkpoint

From the December 2009 Review of Tax
& Accounting Research Systems

Checkpoint product is a research platform covering a wide range of tax and accounting
topics. Tax research is just one of many subject matters addressed in Checkpoint,
and that will be the focus of this review.

Ease of Use/Search Routine:
Research begins with a keyword or words entry and checking boxes to select from
the sources to which the user is subscribed. These options include Primary Sources
(IRC for example), Editorial, Legislation, News, and Archives. The selection
of source choices can be saved for future use.

More complex search strings can be built using the words and, or, and exclude,
as well as specific phrases. The search results page presents one line per category
of source, with the number of documents found to the right (even if that number
is zero, another user-defined option). These result lines are organized in an
indented hierarchy that reflects the main organizational structure of the source
material. A source category with one or more hits is highlighted and, when clicked,
opens up another hierarchy with results ranked by relevancy (if so chosen by
the user), a title and brief summary, and a relevancy score. Relevancy is determined
by a combination of word frequency within the document and within the entire

The tax research content is a combination of the familiar RIA, PPC, WG&L,
EBIA brands, and BNA. For cross-border tax issues, content is included from
the IBFD Tax Treaty Case Law (IBFD is a Dutch company with a focus on international
tax issues). This selection seems like an exhaustive list of all major sources
of U.S. tax analysis along with some international flavor if needed. All standard
public content is included, such as the entire Internal Revenue Code, legislative
histories and court opinions. An interesting extension of the standard search
protocol is the Create-a-Chart feature. Starting with one or more topics and
selecting sources both federal and state, the resulting output is a five-column
table showing the topics, jurisdictions, comments, and links to authoritative
citations and RIA paragraphs.

Upon the initial login, the new user is stepped through a series of windows
to set the default homepage layout and areas of research. This involves selecting
the Home tab (Tax or five others), followed by the default research area, the
preferred news source for the Newsstand, selections and frequency of emailed
newsletters, preferred format for exporting, and options for result set display.
Any of these options can be changed later.
The Income Tax Developments Wizard will guide the user through selection of
jurisdictions and topics to compile a custom-scheduled search, with an email
notification when new results are available. A very notable feature is custom
folders, created and named by the user.

Selected search results can be saved within a folder, and this collection of
research can be retrieved, modified or deleted later as needed. Finally, the
entire homepage can be heavily customized in appearance by dragging any of the
14 content panes around or even removing them entirely. These panes reflect
the many sources and types of content available under the subscription.

Help, Support & Updates:
The Help link opens a new window that presents extensive Help text in the familiar
Windows format, organized into chapters that can be searched by keyword. New
this year is the International Tax Wizard and state and local chart creation
for partnership returns. Technological enhancements are released four times
per year; other content is updated as available, particularly the new developments
and editorial content. A Checkpoint subscription is priced by the content chosen,
starting at $1,000 minimum and going up into five figures. The vendor also noted
that there are some products available starting at a few hundred dollars. With
a combination of rich content and easy customization, Checkpoint is an outstanding
research tool for any tax practitioner.

2009 Overall Rating: