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CeCe Morken, IntuitIntuit will debut a wide range products for users of its professional tax applications before tax season. The ancillary offerings include an "intelligent digital organizer" to enable tax pros and their clients to know track missing tax documents and due dates. The plans were outlined during this week's Investor's Day by SVP CeCe Morken, who also noted Intuit's development of a global tax engine aimed at expanding tax services internationally.

Morken gave few details about the tax engine. She told attendees that "We are testing this technology in global markets in partnership with small business team." International expansion is a priority for CEO Brad Smith given the overwhelmingly amount of revenue that his company derives from users in the United States.

Among programs outlined, Intuit is also expanding its Intuit Select program, via which the company matches taxpayers who need a preparer with those interested in providing bids for accepting that work. "Our job was to be a matchmaker for people who are looking for pros with pros who are looking for people," Morken said.

There was detail given about new products being introduced into the professional market. Besides the new organizer, these include the following
*A tax return hub designed to track workflow;
*Payment services for increasing options available to clients and their preparers;
*Automatic mapping of data from QuickBooks Online into returns.

Morken also spelled out Intuit's position in the professional market in more detail than the company has previously given. She said during the last tax season Intuit products handled 25 percent of the nation's customers who used professionals and 35 percent of all returns. She attributed the higher share of returns to the company's penetration in mid size and large returns. She also said the professional initiative is designed to increase Intuit's sales to smaller firms.

The new products were not outlined in terms of whether they work with all three Intuit professional products—Intuit Tax Online, ProSeries and Lacerte. However, the discussion centered on online capabilities.

Morken did not specify the number of clients and preparers that participated in Intuit Select. She noted Intuit's belief that consumers who have previously prepared their own taxes will turn to a professional if they have life-changing events, such as a marriage or purchase of a house, that leads them to want advice.

TurboTax provides a button that tells users that they can "Get a free quote". That leads to a series of questions asking for information such as the state in which they live and sources of income. Based on answers, quotes will be provided and Morken said users "can select which CPA they wish to work with." She continued that "I am never going to ask a customer to sign in or give me an email until they have made a decision."

Among the products on the way, the digital organizer will feature what Morken termed a "pro-facing component and services and a client facing screen and services." The system will automatically access the prior-year's tax returns. Utilizing what she said is "an intelligent missing data engine", the system will inform the consumer and professional which forms are needed and when they are due.

The company also wants to link QuickBooks Online data to tax applications. Morken said there are 115,000 accountants who have at least one QBO customer. But currently, there is no way to automatically enter data from the accounting system into the tax product. Automatic mapping will be provided this year, which she estimated will reduce data entry on small business returns by 50 percent.

The tax return hub, she said, will let professionals track work by return type or work flow. The product, which went live two weeks ago, will inform a preparer of "where are you in the process and what should you be working on."

The purpose of new payment offerings was described as a series of products that will provide options designed to enable all parties to "have better financial outcomes. Our goal is to improve the financial outcome for the professional by 20 percent for every return and 10 percent for each of their clients," Morken said.

Bob Scott
Bob Scott has provided information to the tax and accounting community since 1991, first as technology editor of Accounting Today, and from 1997 through 2009 as editor of its sister publication, Accounting Technology. He is known throughout the industry for his depth of knowledge and for his high journalistic standards.  Scott has made frequent appearances as a speaker, moderator and panelist and events serving tax and accounting professionals. He  has a strong background in computer journalism as an editor with two former trade publications, Computer+Software News and MIS Week and spent several years with weekly and daily newspapers in Morris County New Jersey prior to that.  A graduate of Indiana University with a degree in journalism, Bob is a native of Madison, Ind
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