Thomson Creative Solutions

CSI sees increased interest in its Web-based products.

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For Creative Solutions, the goal for the upcoming tax season is simple: to make it easier for the 19,000 firms using UltraTax to complete tasks for a number of clients. The company says its UltraTax 1040 Portals are helping to do just that. The portals provide clients with around-the-clock access to read-only versions of returns. Completed returns are posted on password-protected private portals so clients can access and print them when needed.

Accountants can also post the Web-based client organizer within client portals. In fact, according to Jack LaRue, vice president of marketing, the number of UltraTax Client Organizers distributed to clients via the Web more than doubled from tax year 2003 to tax year 2004. The completion rate was more than 35 percent, much higher than the completion rate that most firms experience with paper organizers.

"We're expecting similar increases for 2005. Clients like the convenience. It's cheaper for the accountant than printing and mailing the organizer," says LaRue.

Partner Insights

Thomson Creative Solutions

UltraTax CS

HQ Dexter, Mich.

Phone (800) 968-8900

Fax (734) 426-3750

Web www.creativesolutions.thomson.com

Email cssales@thomson.com

Price $2,000.

Renewal $1,700.

Pay-per-return Available.

Multi-state processing Unlimited.

Data entry Batch/input sheet and interview/interactive.

Support methods Toll-free telephone, fax, Web, e-mail, UltraTax Help Menu, Creative Solutions Knowledge base, and ARNE 2.

Electronic storage FileCabinet CS.

Electronic filing 1040 (federal and all applicable states), 1065 (federal), 1120, 1120S, 990, and 5500, through CSI.

Integrates with the following Write-up CS, Trial Balance CS, Engagement CS, Fixed Assets CS, Planner CS, UltraTax 1040 Portals, Creative Solutions Practice, Practice CS, GoSystem Audit, CaseWare Working Papers, Client Ledger System, and EasyAcct.

New for next year Integration with PPC 1040 Deskbook on CD; integration with UltraTax CS 1040 Portals; ability to print to PDF directly from within UltraTax CS; addition of missing information diagnostics.

UltraTax 1040 Web Delivery of returns in PDF form is available on a per-return basis at $5 per client, or an unlimited license is also available for $1,000.

David Stenseth, a partner at Woodbury, Minn.-based Stenseth and Samuelson, says the combination of the 1040 Portals and FileCabinet CS has saved the firm about $5,000 per year.

"Prior to using these products, we would spend $7,000 on office supplies, and last year we only spent $2,000," says Stenseth. The firm, which completed 700 tax returns last season, found the 1040 Portals were a "pleasant surprise." Stenseth had anticipated a 10 percent adoption rate among clients, but the rate hit 30 percent.

"It gives clients all their documents back, and when we do interviews with clients, we can open a return on screen. We also don't get nearly as many calls about sending returns to clients after tax season," adds Stenseth.

Only 100 firms tried the portals, which were rolled out late in 2004. But LaRue expects several times that number will use them next tax season. The number of firms adopting the NetClient portals has already reached 1,000, and he expects a similar number will implement the UltraTax portals.

The company has also reorganized the support and services section of its Web site, renaming it NetCS. Its new features include order tracking, and a listing of state efiling requirements. Contact management and administrative capabilities were also added, so that a firm can grant or restrict rights for employee usage.

"For example, a firm may not want to have all their people renew and/or purchase software. They can restrict that to certain people," says LaRue.

Also on tap is increased integration between CSI products and those of its sister company, RIA Compliance. That includes two-way links between GoSystem RS, UltraTax CS, and Engagement, now being extended to other CSI accounting products. With two-way transfers, accountants can go into the tax product to make adjustments and export the data to the accounting software.

Last year, CSI integrated its Form/Line Finder with RIA's Checkpoint tax research system, primarily for federal forms, and this year CSI will add schedules. CSI is also working on integration with another sister company, PPC. Form/ Line Finder will integrate with PPC's 1040 DeskBook. Integration will be extended to PPC DeskBook 1041 and 1065.

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