Simplification is key for Lacerte this tax season. And the company has three areas in which it is focusing. The first initiative for the upcoming tax season is to continue to make the product easy to use for its 40,000 users. "We want our product to be easy for new accountants, such as part-time seasonal help, and we also want professionals to be able to reuse data that has already been entered into the program," says Jorge Olavarrieta, senior product manager for Lacerte.
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The company is improving data entry to automate and pre-populate financial documents, W-2s, and 1099s, as well as making it possible to store commonly used descriptions and corresponding addresses for use in recurring entries.
In addition, Lacerte has simplified the like-kind exchange dispositions and added an asset transaction wizard. Navigation between tax forms and tax laws is available so that preparers don't have to leave the pages that they are working on.
Secondly, Lacerte is providing several tools to assist professionals in managing workflow. Introduced last season, the Client Tracker, which allows users to see where a tax file is in the return process, will have increased performance. "We had requests from several customers about the speed of a tab, which we've fixed, and we've added more query options," says Olavarrieta.
The Columbia, Mo.-based Gillaspy CPA Group utilizes the Client Tracker for tracking the firm's 500 individual and 100 business returns as they come in the door, travel through, and exit the firm.
HQ Plano, Texas
Phone (800) 756-7777
Fax (214) 387-2689
Pay-per-return $25 (includes federal and one state).
Multi-state processing Unlimited.
Data entry Input sheet/batch, plus interview/interactive input.
Support methods Toll-free telephone, fax, and Web.
Electronic storage Lacerte Document Management System.
Electronic filing 1040, 1065, 1120, 1120S, 1041, 990, and 5500.
Integrates with the following QuickBooks, Intuit's Document Management System, Intuit's Tax Planner, EasyAcct, and BNA Tax Planner.
New for next year Simplification of like-kind exchange dispositions, asset transaction wizard, and improved data entry to automate and pre-populate financial documents such as W-2s and 1099s.
The group customized the package to monitor client information and to identify and track the status of work by preparers and checkers, along with monitoring any changes and rechecking.
"It can also automatically tell us how many days each return has been in our office and we can assign various priority codes to each return," say Gregg Gillaspy, CPA and partner.
Other tools are the Missing Data Utility, to tag missing data and request information from the client via email directly from within the program; Audit Checks to indicate which items have been reviewed; and Sticky Notes, which act as a reminder of pending issues.
The company also offers the E-organizer, the 1040 Tax Analyzer, which helps users identify clients who can benefit from particular advice, and a tax planner. The software also features the Lacerte Document Management System for storage and retrieval of electronic documents.
"Time for deep thought on some tax returns can be difficult during tax season, so the Tax Analyzer helps to do some thinking for you so you can bring the best service to your clients," says Gillaspy.
"Tax Analyzer paid for itself. I had a few tax returns where, they were either new clients or an existing client who started a self-employed business, and the preparer had left the self-employed business in the husband's name (default of the tax program) rather than code it to the wife," he says. "I hadn't noticed this until I started reading the recommendations from the Tax Analyzer whereby it uses the actual name of the taxpayer in its suggestions. Since I knew it was the wife's business, I automatically knew we had it coded wrong when I would read the husband's name with the suggestion."