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Tax preparers will begin using online tax application in great numbers. Mobile applications will be an increasingly important part of the process. But this year is not the year for those developments. All of that stuff will arrive, but most preparers are still merely dipping their toes in the water in online and mobile. Good old-fashioned changes such as the addition of states, efiling and dealing with the capabilities of multiple monitors is more the order of the day for 2011 tax software.

Among the tweaks to monitor administration is the capability being added to Thomson Reuter's UltraTax CS which will provide users with the ability to customize how UltraTax is used in a multi-monitor environment. That means letting them have different views on each of four monitors simultaneously, according to Scott Fleszar, VP of strategic marketing at the company's Tax & Accounting business.

Practitioners could have the tax form on one monitor, the prior year on another, along with one new use. "You can have one of the monitors facing the client. It will have the special view that won't have any accounting speak," says Fleszar.

CCH will also expand the capabilities of  ProSystem fx Tax with the way two monitors can be used. The return could be shown on one monitor while another displays input, says product manager Jo Ann Cummings who called the capability "a big time saver. Previously, "You couldn't have input and output on the other," she notes.

CCH Small Firm Services, which markets the ATX and TaxWise applications, faces a different set of issues since bank products have been a major part of its product line. And the company, like the rest of the market, is going into the season not knowing if any bank will offer refund anticipation loans.

The company made its enrollment applications available earlier, hoping to have as much work done in advance. The key event is a September hearing expected regarding the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., which has charged Republic Bank with unsafe lending practices regarding RAL while Republic has charged the FDIC with harassment. Most of the RAL money provided during the last season came from Republic so the hearing is critical. SFS is working with the Santa Barbara Tax Products Group which will be providing refund transfers.

The uncertainty has SFS working to expand disbursement options, particularly the Western Union MoneyWise prepaid MasterCard, a program implemented for the last tax season. The reloadable card is used to receive refunds and practitioners can take their fees from the money transferred.

During the last season, the card was mailed to clients. For the next season, practitioners can issue these in their offices. This is for "offices that decide they would like to issue the cards at the time of tax prep," says Shannon Bond, the CCH unit's commercial product line manager. "They will be able to hand them to taxpayers."

Among new items for ProSystem fx are more conversions. "With so many CPA firms who are buying offices all the same, converting other tax products is important," says Cummings. The conversions being added are same-year TaxWise 1040 and pro forma conversion for business returns, along with same-year conversions for the Lacerte 1120 and1120S.

CCH is also providing greater integration of Tax with other elements in its ProSystem suite. Starting in August, users can link returns to clients in ProSystem fx Document (SaaS) and print returns directly to that application. The same capability will be available for the fx Portal application. Cummings says preparers won't need to link the client to the return each time they want to print. They can also link and access a Workstream project from within a tax return.

One of the intriguing changes in Intuit's ProSeries is the ability to produces 1099 and W-2 forms. The ability is provided as Quick Employer Forms, which Intuit says enables users to generate 1099s and W-2s in three steps. ProSeries also will come with ProLine QuickCollect so that clients can pay preparer's fees from their refund. Two previously separate functions will be packed into Lacerte. This includes the eOrganizer, along with the Trial Balance Utility.

Product manager Jorge Olavarrieta notes that the organizer provides preparers with the ability to notify taxpayers automatically about missing data. "The accountant can mark things that are missing and make that request in an automated fashion," he says.

E-filing has been expanded with both Intuit applications. State e-filing is now included with the purchase of all state forms for Lacerte.

Besides enhancing the multi-monitor capabilities of UltraTax, Thomson has also fine-tuned its online review features. Fleszar notes says the 2011 application provides the ability assign tick marks that are colored differently for each preparer. Preparers will also be able to send all returns to client portals in one step.

Last modified on Sunday, 02 June 2013
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