Thomson Reuters believes that scanning source documents can be a great way to improve the tax preparation process. It's just that scanning won't help everyone. Last year, Thomson tested its product, which will populate tax returns with data from source documents, at 130 firms during tax season. What the company needs to do in its first full year of the offering is make sure the right people are buying the product, says Teresa Mackintosh, vice president of marketing for the Dexter, Mich.-based Thomson operations.
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The product will be offered at an introductory price of $7.50 per client return, with no base fee. However, to be successful, Thomson believes users "need to have an upfront scanning process and access to a less-costly labor process," says Mackintosh. But that rules out a substantial part of the market. She continues, "In our surveys, less than 10 percent of the market has an upfront scanning process."
Source documents for 1040 return are scanned into FileCabinet CS to the File Cabinet Source Document module for OCR processing, data extraction and page naming. After documents are identified and data captured, it can then be reviewed in the Source Data Entry program and then exported to the tax preparation program.
Otto Chase, a shareholder with Danta, Chase & Co., says that he likes UltraTax's documentation and categorizes the diagnostics as being very thorough. He also finds the integration between UltraTax CS to be one of the product's best capabilities.
Chase chose to utilize Web-based delivery of the tax program, which enables current users to download full versions of the application.
Chase, whose firm is based in Everett, Wash., has not yet started actively using the company's UltraTax 1040 portals. But he intends to begin utilizing them as his preferred way of distributing documents.
"My goal is to do it through the portals," says Chase, who says he will probably impose a surcharge when client clients request paper documents.
The portals have been popular, he says, and not just with the tax preparers.
"The lenders like it more than the customers. They can print exactly what they want and what they don't want. It's been very well received," he says. His firm handles about 1,500 individual returns and 1,000 business returns during tax season.
Earlier this year, Thomson announced that more than 200,000 customers were using portals, including the NetClient CS client portal system, the NetStaff CS portals for staff, the UltraTax portals for clients and Web Employee for employees of an accountant's clients.
The company is also expanding its document management product line with the introduction of FileCabinet CS lite, a limited function version of its Internet-based document storage system. The lite version is free with the purchase of UltraTax CS.
"About one-third of firms are not using any document management program whatsoever," says Mackintosh. Lite can be utilized to show users numbers in the prior year's UltraTax prepared returns via a keystroke.
The return is placed in a separate folder and the preparer can see the return as it was filed and printed. The system includes native input screens and tax forms. However, source documents that are not native to UltraTax cannot be added.
Among forms being added to UltraTax are several 1120 returns, including the 1120-PC and S-Corp NJ consolidated returns.
The company also upgraded its Web site this year. Thomson has enabled customers to access demos, Webinars and trial versions that can downloaded or shipped via CD.
Phone (800) 968-8900
Web site www.CS.Thomsonreuters.com
Federal 1040 Price (first year) $2,200
Pay-per-return $18 each per federal 1040. $11 per state 1040.
Online preparation. For professional users.
Multi-state processing Yes.
Support methods Telephone, fax, Web, email, UltraTax CS Help menu, knowledgebase, ARNE 2.
Tax season support hours M-F: 9 am to 10 pm ET; Sat.: 9 am to 6 pm ET; select Sun..
Document management/storage Integrated use of Thomson Tax & Accounting's digital document management software FileCabinet CS and GoFileRoom.
Client portals. NetClient CS portals, UltraTax 1040 portals.
Internet capabilities. Search, text and email function.
Online organizer Available.
New for Next Year 1065 and 1120 Puerto Rico returns. Spanish client documents for 1040 federal returns and many 1040 states. New 1120 returns, including 1120-PC and S-Corp NJ Consolidated. FileCabinet CS lite free with the purchase of UltraTax CS.