Teresa Mackintosh, CPA, vice president of strategic marketing for Thomson Tax & Accounting, Professional Software & Services, said the staffing shortage not only continues to impact the industry but is actually "hitting a crisis point." Given this, Thomson Tax & Accounting is aiming to help its clients enhance efficiency and automate workflow processes this upcoming tax season.
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"In the profession we are seeing a continued staff shortage and it is hitting a crisis point. They [tax preparers] are looking for ways to save time," says Mackintosh.
In April, Thomson Tax & Accounting, a business segment of The Thomson Corp., announced a new branding strategy that further links the company's three business units. As a result, the Creative Solutions name has been dropped and is now known as UltraTax CS by Thomson Tax & Accounting.
To help streamline workflow, the company is working to bring Optical Content Recognition into the tax preparation process. Thomson also is adding forms, improving the system's interface and expanding reporting features.
The technology will take source documents, like W-2s and 1099s, and will use OCR technology to recognize the data and input it into the tax programming, eliminating the rekeying of data.
The product details are given at www.1040Works.com. It is priced at $395 for the federal 1040 and one state and $595 for the 1040 and all states.
In addition, the company is adding for the season a Client Profile page off of the Home Page, which will help preparers quickly and easily locate client demographic data.
Mackintosh adds the company is discussing the addition of a lockbox within the 1040 portals where users could store key documents.
UltraTax user David Stenseth, CPA, president of Woodbury, Minn.-based Stenseth Samuelson & Boese, says his firm has several hundred clients using UltraTax's 1040 Web portals.
"Having these portals combined with UltraTax's integration with FileCabinet CS allows us to further our goals of being paperless and deliver the same type of solution to our clients," says Stenseth, whose firm serves about 1,000 clients.
He would like to be able to add client documents into a 1040 Web portal so he can provide clients with tax returns and supporting documents.
"I really like the linkage in Lacerte from the tax return to supporting worksheets and would like to see a feature like this built into UltraTax," adds Stenseth.
Glenn Hanner, partner of Bedford, Texas-based Hanner & Associates P.C., says he can now spread the program across multiple monitors, having the input screen on one monitor and the forms on another monitor. He also noted that several clients are taking advantage of the online organizers.
"While it is only about 9 percent to 10 percent of our clients, it is growing exponentially every year," says Hanner, whose firm prepares about 900 individual returns and 300 entity returns.
Hanner would like to see improvements made to the client letter options. "One area is the IRA/Retirement portion of the letter. If a client qualifies for a $4,000 contribution and has made $1,000, I would like to enter the amount paid so far and have the letter net the two and say they need to make an additional $3,000," he says.
Denise Boyle, CPA, a partner at Escanaba, Mich.-based Schneider Larche Haapala & Co. likes the company's technical support and the software integration. However, she has some suggestions.
"I would like to be better able to determine if clients received their information when it is sent electronically (through email or the portal), and what exactly it is they are receiving," Boyle says.
HQ Dexter, Mich.
Phone (800) 968-8900
Web site www.CS.Thomson.com
Federal 1040 price (first year) $2,100
Online preparation Available for professional users.
Multi-state processing Available.
Support methods Telephone, fax, Web, email, UltraTax CS Help menu, knowledgebase, ARNE 2.
Tax season support hours M-F: 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET; Saturday: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET; and select Sundays.
Document management/storage FileCabinet CS and GoFileRoom.
Client portals Available.
Online organizer Available.
Integration Write-Up CS, Trial Balance CS, Engagement CS, Fixed Asset CS, Planner CS, UltraTax/1040 Portals, Creative Solutions Practice, Practice CS, GoSystem Audit, CaseWare Working Papers, Client Ledger System, EasyAcct.
New for next year Working to bring Optical Content Recognition into the tax preparation process; adding forms; improving the system's interface; and expanding reporting features.