When it comes to tax and accounting research, you no longer need to worry about whether you'll be able to find a particular piece of information -- it's all out there, on one research platform or another.
As these different research platforms grow more comprehensive in their offerings and more complicated in their structure, though, the trick becomes picking the one that will best fit your practice, in terms of both your research needs and your overall research budget. To that end, we took a look at the leading research providers for accounting firms, as well as a newcomer or two.
Bloomberg BNA Tax and Accounting Center
BNA Tax and Accounting
Pricing: Contact vendor.
The Bloomberg BNA Tax and Accounting Center offers expert analysis and practice tools from over 1,000 of the world's leading tax and accounting authorities, along with news, commentary and primary source material all in one integrated place to streamline tax research. Bloomberg BNA's coverage spans the full range of federal, state and international tax issues, as well as financial accounting topics.
Bloomberg BNA has more credentialed reporters on Capitol Hill than any other news organization, providing breaking news and insight directly from the source. Breaking news is customizable for state, federal and international tax areas, with quick reference charts designed to inform on hot topics such as sunset tax provisions, presidential candidates' tax plans, and corporate tax reform. BNA also provides continuing education to help you understand changes in the industry, with expert analysis from tax practitioners presented in a variety of formats -- webinars, interactive e-learning courses, live training and live conference events.
The Bloomberg BNA Tax Practice Series now has Fast Answers: Federal Tax, a Q&A that covers more than 3,000 questions facing tax practitioners on a daily basis, including tax rates, and relevant charts and election statements. The Bloomberg BNA Premier State Tax Library has been expanded to include expert-written state-by-state tax analysis. And Bloomberg BNA has added the International Tax Chart Builder to its platform. This new feature gives easy access to international tax topics for more than 100 countries.
Bloomberg BNA's collection of over 500 tax and accounting portfolios, written by the world's leading expert tax and accounting practitioners, provides practical analysis of specific topics and problem areas, evaluates the consequences of various courses of action, and offers practice tools including working papers, client letters and other model documents.
Separately, just as we were going to press, Bloomberg BNA announced the launch of a new research platform aimed specifically at accounting standards. The new Financial Accounting Resource Center will include source material from all the major regulators -- such as the Financial Accounting Standards Board, the Governmental Accounting Standards Board, the International Accounting Standards Board, the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the American Institute of CPAs -- as well as analysis and explanations, hundreds of sample disclosures, and a customizable daily newsfeed.
CCH Accounting Research Manager
CCH, a Wolters Kluwer business
Pricing: Varies; starts at $200.
The CCH Accounting Research Manager is an online research tool that offers a comprehensive collection of resources and practice tools about tax, accounting, auditing, governmental, Securities and Exchange Commission and internal controls standards, the Financial Accounting Standards Board Codification, FASB Codification Topic 740 (FIN 48), Sarbanes-Oxley and other pertinent topics.
The Accounting Research Manager database is updated up to five times per day, and includes Daily News, the latest accounting, auditing, international, regulatory and governmental news, delivered via e-mail. In addition, it helps address a variety of issues through add-on libraries, such as public and private audits, knowledge-based audits, accounting, internal controls, fraud and forensic accounting, 10-K lookup, and financial reporting in the Asia-Pacific region.
To keep current, subscribers receive a Weekly Summary, an e-mail newsletter highlighting the key developments of the week that provides links to a comprehensive range of authoritative and proposal-stage regulatory literature, plus insightful guidance from financial reporting experts.
It offers direct integration with ProSystem fx Engagement within the ProSystem fx Office suite of software, as well as with ProSystem fx Knowledge Coach, CCH's digital audit manager.
CCH Small Firm Services
Pricing: Starts at $449 per year.
CCH Essentials is an online research package aimed at small to midsized tax and accounting firms. The package includes primary source materials such as the Internal Revenue Code, Treasury regulations, court cases and letter rulings, plus the popular CCH U.S. Master Tax Guide.
Powered by IntelliConnect, an online platform, all of CCH Essentials can be searched at once and the results can be filtered, saved, printed and e-mailed. CCH Essentials through CCH Small Firm Services includes the U.S. Master Tax Guide; the Internal Revenue Code; federal tax regulations; letter rulings and Internal Revenue Service positions; IRS publications; Circular 203; and Tax Court and federal tax cases.
CCH, a Wolters Kluwer business
Pricing: Starts at $200.
IntelliConnect, part of the Wolters Kluwer global online content delivery and publishing platform, provides accountants and other tax professionals access to the content available from CCH and other sources for more effective management of resources and research.
It offers an online platform from which to access appropriate related content by linking directly from documents to additional information such as the Internal Revenue Code, CCH Explanations, regulations and more; to navigate via a Browse Tree and Favorites linked to the homepage; a fast and intuitive search filter system; to print any portion of a document in one step; to view a searchable, alphabetical list of all publications subscribed to; to search selected practice areas; and to search up to eight different topics at any time.
IntelliConnect not only enables the accountant to conduct searches in a myriad of ways - browse/menu walk for specific content, search selected content by keyword, search all content by keyword, search by citation -- but integrates smoothly with ProSystem fx Tax and IntelliConnect Search Express.
Thomson Reuters Tax & Accounting
New York City
Pricing: Starts at $105.
Checkpoint, Thomson Reuters' online research platform, offers fast access to a variety of content from Thomson Reuters' RIA, WG&L, WorldTrade Executive and PPC brands, along with that of many regulatory agencies, as well as case studies and best practices, with additional practice development tools such as calculators, sales tax lookups and client letters. The system also provides firm management utilities, including built-in time tracking.
Beyond its core features of database management, search, information organization and practice management, Checkpoint offers such unique capabilities as a charting program to create and compare tabulations such as state and local taxes; e-filing for tax returns; international tax rates; and SECPlus financial fundamentals. A State Search Wizard reduces the complexity of multi-state searches, allowing searches by specific tax types and tax documents in a single search. StateNet Legislation and Regulation databases provide the full text of approved and pending legislation, as well as adopted and proposed regulation. And the Sales and Use Tax Rate Lookup gives access to more than 41,000 sales and use tax rates from over 6,500 jurisdictions, by Zip code, city or county.
Checkpoint thoroughly integrates both tax and accounting information, melding content with Thomson Reuters' compliance software, including ONESOURCE, Ultra Tax CS and e-Form RS, as well as the Thomson Reuters CPE platform, Checkpoint Learning. Checkpoint also integrates with Microsoft Office for output, and has been optimized for use with the iPad and selected smartphones.
Upgrades are made directly to the platform for immediate access. Recent enhancements include the addition of The International Trade Laws of the U.S.: Statutes and Strategies; PPC's Guide to the Clarified Auditing Standards; Essential International Tax Solutions powered by Orbitax; and enhancements to the state and local tax practice area.
Intuit Proline Tax Research
Mountain View, Calif.
Pricing: Unlimited annual subscription -- $849; unlimited seasonal subscription -- $449; pay-per-use subscription -- $19.95 (four articles per client return).
Intuit Tax Research is an online solution that is integrated with the Intuit ProSeries and Lacerte Tax programs, using Google search on content by BNA. It includes 1.5 million documents: primary code, state regulations, publications, technical advice memoranda, private letter rulings, program manager's technical advice, and IRS information letters/action on decisions/news releases, plus online access to colleagues using Lacerte or ProSeries.
In addition, it provides the ability to append research to client returns and document the audit trail; easy navigation through information sources; the ability to integrate cites and sources into client letters; and fast results filtered using Google's search engine, which ensures preparers will not spend time looking for the correct answer to their query.
Included is the full BNA Accounting Policy and Practice Series; compensation planning portfolios; country portfolios covering 40 other countries; estate, gifts and trusts portfolios; foreign income portfolios; IRS Practice Advisor; Premier International Tax Library; real estate portfolios; sales and use tax portfolios; state tax portfolios; tax-exempt organizations portfolios; transfer pricing portfolios; Tax Practice Library; Transfer Pricing Premier Library; and the U.S. Income Portfolios Library. Federal and state court cases have also been recently added.
Intuit's offering into tax research may seem a little lightweight, but it should be of note to smaller practices, for two reasons. First, it provides users of ProSeries and Lacerte Tax programs an integrated, customized interface for research. Second is the pricing of the product. In addition to a relatively low unlimited use price, Intuit is offering a per-use price of only $19.95. For the semi-retired professional or a tax office with only modest research needs, this pricing model is significant.
LexisNexis Tax Center
Pricing: Varies; both transactional and monthly pricing available.
LexisNexis Tax Center is the only tax product that combines cases, codes, regulations and analytical materials from BNA, Tax Analysts, Matthew Bender and LexisNexis, with the ability to conduct a single search across all content. Available in a version specific to corporate and professional tax practitioners, the LexisNexis Tax Center provides an array of primary, analytical and current awareness information on a single platform -- including exclusive expert analysis and practical insights from leading practitioners.
Key features include one-search access across multiple resources that include LexisNexis, BNA, Tax Analysts, Matthew Bender, and the ABA Section of Tax; the LexisNexis Tax Advisor, which are federal tax reporter services that tie together expert analysis and insight with related federal Tax Code sections and tax topics; LexisNexis State Tax Practice Insights, which are practical analyses of state tax codes and regulations from the top tax professionals practicing at leading firms, plus their useful tips, traps, alerts and drafting suggestions; the Matthew Bender tax treatise collection written by respected authorities in their field and frequently cited by the IRS and tax courts; and the exclusive Shepard's Signal indicators to quickly determine whether relevant laws and IRS administrative rulings are still valid.
Also included are timely updates from authoritative sources such as Tax Notes Today and Federal Tax Day. LexisNexis offers a single platform for virtually all tax and accounting needs, including exclusive content like An Analysis of FIN 48 -- Accounting for Uncertain Income Tax Positions, as well as FASB/GASB content. And it includes the new LexisNexis Dossier, delivering up-to-date, easy-to-read profiles of nearly 35 million companies and information on 1,000 industries worldwide in seconds.
Parker Tax Pro Library
Parker Tax Publishing
Pricing: Single-user one-year subscription -- $267; flat $100 for multi-user license (up to five users).
Parker's Tax Pro Library is a relatively new entry into the tax research field that combines 21 electronic volumes of expert explanation and analysis, combined with practice aids and a biweekly tax bulletin.
It's designed to provide fast, authoritative answers to tax questions at a fraction of the cost of competing research packages. For practitioners who don't subscribe to a paid tax service, it eliminates the uncertainty associated with free Internet content (a.k.a., "Googling for tax answers").
Through extensive use of real-world examples, observations, cautionary notes and practice tips, Parker's analysis helps cut through the complexity of tax rules and achieve better results. Parker's large library of 340 sample client letters and tax election statements save time, improve client communications, and help ensure compliance with IRS requirements.
A multitude of advanced search engine features enable subscribers to find answers very quickly. Examples include search within the results of prior search, and instant retrieval of source documents by cite. Relevant materials can be easily accessed by browsing, word searching, or by clicking on links in Parker's in-depth analysis.
Enhancements since the end of the 2011 tax season include the addition of more than 600 analysis sections, client letters, election statements, and quick reference tables. Parker has also added nearly 100,000 cases and rulings, extending coverage back to 1942.
Dave McClure is the president of Kent Associates, in Alexandria, Va., an independent testing laboratory and evaluation service.
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