Estimated reading time: 8 minutes, 55 seconds

You can't fully appreciate the complexity of a concept until you attempt to explain it to someone else. Over the course of the past year, I had just such an opportunity while trying to explain U.S. rules for depreciating fixed assets to a very bright individual from France. When we compared notes regarding every other element of accounting, we were happy to discover more similarities than differences between the two countries.

While the French chart of accounts is more standardized than our U.S. versions, their approach to journal entries and bill payments is similar to ours. They have the VAT and of course, we have sales taxes. The French payroll system is far more complicated than ours in the U.S., and results in long, involved pay slips. But none of these differences were worrisome.

After working our way through every other area of automated accounting, as well as a few difficult to translate terms like "doohickey" and "stuff", it was finally time to talk about fixed assets. He spent many hours researching our rules and was quick to grasp the different depreciation methods available. He readily converted sum-of-the-years digits, straight line and double-declining balances to a formula. But then he got to tax-basis depreciation. The sheer variety of depreciation calculations required for tax purposes were almost enough to send this remarkable Frenchman over the edge. Just think about it.

Our fixed asset solutions must manage, among other things:
• Book basis
• Federal tax basis
• State tax basis

These programs have to allow for bonus depreciation and section 179 (with their legislated changes in floors and ceilings every year) and deal with special rules provided by each of our 50 U.S. states. They have to be flexible and powerful and must be quickly updated at the beginning of every tax year.

All I can say is thank goodness for automated fixed asset solutions like the ones covered in alphabetical order below and vive les differences.

BNA Fixed Assets
Bloomberg BNA
Arlington, VA.
(800) 424-2938, option 3
Price: starts at $2,000 for a single user license

BNA Fixed Assets
With more than 70,000 users, including the IRS, Bloomberg BNA's Fixed Assets is a well-respected application for accounting professionals. The team of tax and accounting experts at Bloomberg help to ensure compliance with the seemingly endless list of changes made to tax and GAAP regulations. Unique among reviewed products, Bloomberg BNA offers a built-in audit trail and an Open Timeline feature that provides a secure historical record of all changes.

Supported calculations include:
• Sum-of-the-Years' Digits
• Listed Auto
• Amortization
• Straight-Line
• Units of Production
• Declining Balance
• Section 179

Data management is a key differentiator for BNA thanks to two features:
1. Reports in Fixed Assets can be generated for prior periods, current and future periods with a change to its date configuration
2. Changes to data are made as of an effective date, so reports show the effect of changes prospectively.
Reporting can be managed via the included Report Maker tool or through exports of pre-formatted tax and book data to other applications, including compliance and general ledger programs.

BNA also offers a hosted solution, BNA Fixed Assets web, which has been available to users since 2001.

Fixed Assets CS
Thomson Reuters
Dexter, Mich.
(800) 968-8900
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Price: Starts at $1500.

Fixed Assets CS
Thomson's Fixed Assets CS is designed with accountants in mind. It offers tight integration with other Thomson modules including Accounting CS, UltraTax CS, Write-Up CS and FileCabinet CS. Customization is a key benefit as is a streamlined interface based on a "file folder format" for quick additions, modifications and dispositions of assets. One of only a handful of solutions available on the cloud, Fixed Assets CS is offered via Virtual Office and SaaS.

Available depreciation options include:
• Tax
• Book
• all 50 states
• State AMT
• Earnings and profits
• State ACE
• Unlimited custom treatments

Clients of accountants who bill by the hour will appreciate the Method/Life Wizard that speeds up data entry by automatically filling in the methods and lives for an asset based on the asset class chosen and the date on which the asset was placed in service.

Fixed Assets Relief
Hauppauge, N.Y.
(888) 999-1366
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Price: $395 plus $75 per additional user.

Fixed Assets Relief
Fixed Assets Relief is a desktop package for accountants. It offers export features that can be used to create adjusting journal entries as well as comma-delimited files for use in a spreadsheet like Excel. The solution provides FASB 109 projections and supports the following methods:
• Unlimited customized methods

Like other applications on the market, rather than offering built in state tax calculations, Fixed Assets Relief manages state calculations in a customized book, which is created by copying another book and then applying relevant state modifications. Accountants World is one of the first vendors to offer cloud-based solutions for accountants, but they do not currently offer Fixed Assets in a SaaS version.

ProSeries Fixed Asset Manager
Mountain View, Calif.
(800) 765-7777 (phone)
: $299.

ProSeries Fixed Asset Manager
ProSeries Fixed Asset Manager is available as a stand-alone solution or as an add-on for the ProSeries Professional software.

Calculations can be made from one of six different perspectives including:
• Book
• Federal
• State
• Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT)
• Adjusted Current Earnings (ACE)
• Custom

ProSeries Fixed Asset Manager also keeps track of information for property tax reporting purposes and includes more than 35 standard reports including a General Ledger (G/L) reconciliation. To speed up data entry, the solution includes a client template to store common general ledger account numbers and categories.

Sage Fixed Assets
Herndon, Va.
(800) 368-2405
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Price: Starts at $1,495.

Sage Fixed Assets
Sage says itssolution "combines over 300,000 IRS tax and GAAP rules and 50 deprecation methods" to address book and tax requirements. This desktop solution is designed to cover the full life cycle of an asset with tracking, depreciation, planning and reporting applications. Integration with ERP and general ledger systems is an area of focus, which you might expect from this international accounting software provider.

With more than 100,000 users to its credit, Sage is currently reviewing options for a cloud-based solution. The company's fixed asset line currently supports remote access via Citrix, Terminal Services and Virtual Private networks. Customized fixed asset reports are provided via a Crystal Reports add-on and the solution can be purchased in a number of different configurations including:
• Sage Fixed Assets - Lite Depreciation
• Sage Fixed Assets - Depreciation
• Sage Fixed Assets - Premier Depreciation
• Sage Fixed Assets - Planning
• Sage Fixed Assets Gov Solutions
• Sage Fixed Assets Nonprofit Solutions

With a total of five standard and two customized books, Sage Fixed Assets can help you get a handle on your fixed assets.

ProSystem fx Fixed Assets
Riverwoods, Ill.
(800) 739-9998
Price: $2,225 (standalone or network).

ProSystem fx Fixed Assets
CCH is known for their suite of tools for accounting professionals. ProSystem fx Fixed Assets includes simplified data entry via asset imports from ProSystem fx Tax and integration with ProSystem fx Engagement. While CCH doesn't currently offer a cloud-based version of ProSystem fx Fixed Assets, the application does integrate with both the on-premise and cloud-based versions of Tax.

More than 15,000 users have put this product to work, including presumably all 400 of its field selections for managing different books.
Data can be imported from an Excel spreadsheet or thanks to integration with ProSystem fx Tax and Global fx, the following information can be bi-directionally exchanged:
• Company and asset information
• Depreciation information in full detail or as totals
• Disposed asset information for reporting tax gains and losses
The program also offers ready-to-file IRS forms for tax returns and can manage up to eight different books, including three user-defined books for specialized depreciation needs.



Geni Whitehouse CPA.CITP, CSPM
Geni Whitehouse, CPA.CITP, CSPM is the Founder of Even a Nerd Can Be Heard, an organization focused on communication skills for smart people.  With past roles ranging from partner in a CPA firm to leader of the technology practice in a firm, she has a wide range of experiences to share.  She is a former software company executive and industry analyst and a two-time graduate of the Jeff Justice Comedy Workshoppe. She is passionate about finding interesting ways to talk about what some might consider boring subjects and has discovered that there is no shortage of material. She is the author of How to Make a Boring Subject Interesting : 52 ways even a nerd can be heard.
Last modified on Sunday, 02 June 2013
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