A long time after many observers thought that online tax preparation would be the way tax practitioners prepared tax returns, RIA's GoSystem RS remains pretty much alone on the Internet. "We are still the only Web-based Internet product available to professional preparers," says product manager Boyd Gackle. And after six seasons on the Web, RIA says the advantages of such processing remain the same: Preparers can work on returns from anywhere they can access the Web, including client sites.
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That was part of the appeal that got Steve Greenberg, a shareholder with Chapel Hill, N.C.-based Greenberg & Himmelberg, to move from the disk-based GoSystem to GoSystem RS. "We wanted the flexibility of being able to do returns from wherever we happened to be," says Greenberg.
That includes being able to work from client sites or going home early and still being able to access returns. Greenberg also likes the wide variety of forms-"every kind of tax return that we would do" - as well as the system's technical capabilities. "We haven't found anything it won't do," he says.
Recognizing that preparers don't always have Web access, RIA has also rolled out RS to Go, which enables preparers to work on their laptops and reconnect with the Web when they return to the office. The preparer is able to download a return, work in a disconnected environment, and then upload the application to RS.
Among features being added to GoSystem RS is the advanced tax equalization module, a more detailed, more robust module than its predecessor. The system allows preparers to equalize state and federal taxes for U.S. residents who are employed overseas. The company is also enhancing MyTaxInfo, a Web-based 1040 organizer by adding the ability to import files from Quicken. The system was available in limited release for the last tax season, with about 1,000 organizers gathered electronically.
"Clients have indicated that they will begin to use that more and more," he says. Among significant changes to partnership returns is the ability to treat partnerships like divisions of companies to that they can be entered as lines of business and consolidated. Preparers also gain the ability to create a PDF file for each partner. Currently, if a return is prepared for a 2,000-partner firm, all the information is in a single PDF file. The new capability will enable preparers to generate an individual PDF for any partner.
One task that is not completed is a review of the 1040 Form to see how data entry can be made easier.
"We are going through our 1040 applications, looking at them from a different perspective," says Gackle. RIA, he says, is examining "how can we make it easier for our clients to enter data. It's more of a screen layout and organization so that the look and feel will still be the same through the application."
Gackle notes that returns continue to be available to preparers through the GoSystem RS Archive, which provides five years of archived returns. But more can be made available. "Returns for 1998 and 1999 will be provided to clients through our archive," he says.
A service that began during the last season, providing downloadable releases between major releases during tax season, will be available for the entire season this year for clients who are still using the CD version of GoSystem. During tax season, RIA provides updates at least once a week. Downloadable releases are made available when there are important developments, such as a change in the tax law, that occurs between CD releases. The service is free, but because of privacy issues, preparers must sign up for it.
About 30 percent of RS users are still on CD. "Some of our CD clients are very happy," notes Gackle. But when it comes to new business, "The clients we are bringing on are exclusively RS."
HQ: Carrollton, Texas
Phone: (800) 865-5257
Fax: (972) 250-8104
Software distribution: CD-ROM; Internet (GoSystem RS).
Price: Price starts at $2,500 (includes 706, 709, 1040, 1041, 1065/1120/1120S, 550, and 990.
Pay-per-return: Available with GoSystem RS.
Multi-state processing: Unlimited.
Data entry: Interactive.
Support methods: Toll-free phone, fax, email, and Web.
Electronic storage: GoSystem Tax RS is online.
Electronic filing: Directly provides 1040 and 1065.
New for next year: Go
System Tax RS to Go. Downloadable releases from Web for CD clients. GoSystem Tax RS Archive. Integration with CSI Engagement Solution. Advanced Tax Equalization Module. Quicken import for MyTaxInfo. Refinements to the Expatriate section to match printed Expatriate Organizer. Adding 1065 consolidations.