CCH will be offering a familiar face in its new user interface for its ProSystem fx Tax software-a worksheet interface for the thousands of accountants who grew up with Excel. The Worksheet View allows users to input data directly onto worksheets and consolidate the information necessary to complete a government form in one location.
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"The Worksheet View is more intuitive and is going to get preparers up and running more quickly," says Kevin Robert, president of CCH Tax and Accounting. More than 2,000 firms have signed up for the product.
The worksheets are grouped by categories, topics, and sections. Also included is related data such as common federal and state information, which is combined to reduce the number of screens.
A slide-out panel allows users to select the federal or any state return and navigate to specific sections in the worksheet. Clicking the sections list, the section heading, or the expand/collapse arrow can also open sections. The bottom portion of the panel can be used to manage entities such as businesses, partnerships, and rental properties.
CCH says the interface streamlines data entry. Many worksheet sections use grids to allow data entry with no need to add additional input sheets. Date fields contain format guides such as "MM/DD/YY," while required fields for electronic filing will display "EF." Users can view data such as interest or dividends in either summary or detail worksheets, easily switching back and forth between detailed and summary information.
Gene Bresnahan, owner of TaxJockey.com, a Dedham, Mass.-based tax preparation firm, is also looking forward to the new interface and plans on attending the free Web Seminar CCH is offering to help preparers become familiar with the product.
An enrolled agent, Bresnahan's 18-year-old company completes more than 800 personal and business tax returns per year. He says ProSystem fx Tax enables him to provide services in a fast and efficient manner.
"ProSystem covers all my form needs from power of attorney to S and C corporation forms. If ProSystem doesn't have the form, I know its not out there," he says.
Meanwhile, CCH is integrating Global fx Tax, its Web-based business, with its desktop applications, including ProSystem fx Engagement, ProSystem fx Fixed Assets, and ProSystem fx Practice. For example, users last year could import for the tax data grouped in Engagement. Data was static, so if subsequent changes were made in Engagement, the user would have to re-import. "With the release of the Dynalink capability between Engagement and Global fx Tax, it will provide users with real-time linking capabilities. Users' changes in Engagement can now be passed to Global fx," says Jerry Connor, segment manager for software products. Although the product still has a small user base, Global fx is expected to grow from 2,500 customers in the last tax season to 4,000 in the next.
More traditional enhancements include 60 new state returns; forms, schedules, and worksheets will be added to ProSystem fx, with emphasis placed on providing returns for Single-Member Limited Liability Companies and forms or worksheets to support the Net Operating Loss Deduction.
New program features include importing Business K-1s into the Individual K Series Interview Forms, and importing detail farm data for Schedule F and Form 4835 using detailed tax lines added in GL Direct; and additional functionality for the "totals-only." Form DP-5 and DP-6, and education credits and deductions will be optimized for maximum tax benefit.
ProSystem fx Tax
HQ: Torrance, Calif.
Phone: (800) 739-9998
Fax: (310) 543-8104
Software distribution: CD-ROM and Web downloads.
Multi-state processing: Unlimited.
Data entry: Batch and interactive.
Support methods: Toll-free telephone, fax, and Web.
Electronic storage: ProSystem fx Engagement Binder.
Electronic filing: 1040, 1065, 5500, 1041, 1120, 1120S, and 990 through CCH.
New for next year: More than 60 new state returns, forms, schedules and worksheets. Import business K-1s into the individual K Series Interview Forms, and import farm data for Schedule F and Form 4835 using detailed tax lines added in GL Direct. Efile email notifications to enable preparers to notify clients when the IRS receives a return.