Intuit’s Lacerte Season Readiness Regional Tour 2017: Review
I recently attended Intuit’s TY17 Lacerte Season Readiness Regional Tour (Twitter: #LacerteCityTour2017) on November 8th in San Diego CA. This (8) hour conference, with available CPE, was put on by Intuit as a way to further the education of its staple products, increase the knowledge of its accountant users, and continue to push its user base towards the next generation of accounting software.
This next gen accounting software (at least IMO) must be cloud based, secure and provide fully integrated accounting, tax and firm wide practice management solutions. In Intuit’s case, this means education its current user base on it’s existing platforms of: QuickBooks Online (QBO), QuickBooks Online Accountant (QBOA), ProConnect Tax Online (PCTO), and Intuit Link (Link) – all to be discussed later.
Disclaimer: I am an active CPA and firm owner that specializes in business accounting and taxation. I advocate for pushing the accounting industry into the future through secure, efficient and effective software solutions. My company currently uses QBO, QBOA, PCTO and Link (as well as other apps and software). My firm nor myself have been paid for my thoughts regarding this event or my review of these products. I just love great solutions!
Profiles of Speakers:
There were three keynote speakers, each with their own attempt at lighthearted humor. It was evident that, although I am sure they were all tired from weeks of traveling cross country together, they enjoyed each other and what they were presenting on.
Jim Buffington, CPA
- Public Practice: 1998-2000
- Intuit: (15) years
- Senior Sales Leader
- MBA: University of Texas (Dallas)
- Intuit: (7) years
- Product & Implementation Specialist
- Intuit: (35) years
- Senior Product Specialist
Summary of Agenda:
*This event included breakfast and lunch, as well as (2) coffee, water snack breaks throughout the day.
Topic 1: Safeguarding Taxpayer Data
Presented by: Jim Buffington, CPA
The first topic was regarding minimizing security threats and safeguarding taxpayer data. It is crucial that you and your firm take the necessary steps towards protecting against such attacks. I always considered my firm to strive towards using best practices and implementing strong security measures, but I took from this topic a lot of tangible steps we have implemented over the last several weeks.
1. Industry Update on Stolen Identity Refund Theft (SIRF)
Since the coalition between the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and major tax software companies, such as Intuit, Taxpayer Identity Theft via tax refunds has dropped significantly: from nearly 700,000 cases in 2015 (2014 Tax Year) to 107,400 cases in the first (5) months of 2017 (2016 Tax Year). This is largely due to the requirement for individual login for each tax return preparer, automatic logging off during inactivity, W-2 Verification codes and delaying refunds to match W-2s.
2. How Criminals Steal Data from Tax Offices
The “anatomy of data theft” as cyber criminals attack tax firms include:
- 91% of attacks start with spear phishing – through attachments in emails you “think” are from someone you know and trust.
- Keylogger captures your passwords
- Remote access entry – from outdated, unsafe computers that are continuously connected to the internet. They will remote access at night, on holidays and weekends to avoid detection.
- Cyber thieves will remote access your firm’s tax returns, change the data and e-file
- Cyber thieves will then copy all the tax return files (including all old clients!!)
3. Safeguarding Data Requirements: Pub 4557
This publication should be read and understood by your entire team. Some highlights to follow:
- Write and follow an Information Security Plan
- Educate staff about phishing and malware threats
- Perform Anti-Virus & Malware deep scans on every workstation, every night.
- Securely dispose of taxpayer information.
- Require strong passwords and change quarterly
- Secure paper documents, laptops, mobile phones, flash drives etc…
4. Cost of a Data Theft
With poor security procedures and negligence, the cost of an attack your your tax firm could be upwards of $200,000 (including mandatory credit monitoring service for all clients impacted, legal fees, fines and penalties and so on). This does not include the price on your reputation or even if you could keep your doors open after such an attack.
5. Additional Safeguards
- Data Theft Insurance
- Use multi-factor authentication with mobile phone for network access
- Restrict Remote Access from hardware (i.e. no access on nights, weekends and holidays)
- Remove inactive user accounts (have good hire/fire protocoles with HR & IT)
- Password protect desktop tax files / encrypt all network files.
Click Here for My ProAdvisor CPA Security Tips:
Topic 2: What’s New in Lacerte TY17 Operational
Presented by: Tony Hunt
The second topic was regarding Lacerte, including existing and new tips, tricks and best practices. Tony discussed new functions or restrictions to include
- Amazon Alexa Skill: Enable “Lacerte News” then ask Alexa for “Flash Briefing”
- Intuit Ecosystem (one login for all Intuit products)
- Must use 64-Bit versions of Windows, Lacerte will not operate on 32-Bit
- Lacerte now has multi-monitor support, enabling to see both Detail, Forms and Diagnostics screens at same time
- Update Lacerte weekley to ensure security and optimization of tools
- Lacerte printed forms provide PDF Bookmarks
- Lacerte provides 300 Partner Financial Institutions for automatic downloaded 1099 and brokerage statement data.
- My Account has new updates and changes to user interface, making it a better experience
Topic 3: 2017 Tax Law Updates
Presented by: Jim Buffington, CPA
- Lacerte will now proforma Drivers License data from TY16 except (AL, IA and NY)
- Tax Reform, ACA Repeal & Replace, and Extender Provisions – All on the horizon
- Due Dates:
- no refunds issued before February 15th
- Forms W-2 and 1099-MISC are due January 31, 2018
- Partnerships & S-Corporations due March 15th (calendar year end)
- C-Corporations due April 15th (calendar year end)
- Qualifying Widower Changes – child no longer needs to be dependent but name must be included if not a dependent.
- Taxpayer with expiring ITINs need new ones. 2015 PATH Act requires if a taxpayer fails to file a return or included as dependent for (3) consecutive years, the ITIN will expire.
- Other Tax Updates – GREAT FOR TAX PLANNING
- Electing to treat a federally declared disaster area loss as sustained in the preceding year.
- Corporations eligible for bonus depreciation can choose instead to accelerate use of prior year minimum tax credits (as refundable credits).
- Discretionary Relief using Form (9100) for Qualified Small Business Payroll Tax Credit for Increasing Research Activities, forms 6765 and 8974. If election was not made timely, form 9100 Notice of Late Election will allow the credit.
- IRS is Starting a Pilot Program – Auditing Schedule F (FARM) Expenses, be aware more Farms may be targeted.
Topic 4: Lacerte Productivity Tools
Presented by: Kevin Reinard
- Use keyboard shortcuts
- Customize the Client Screen (add E-File Status, Return “Status”, Client info, etc…)
- Use missing data utility – organize within Lacerte the progress of each tax return, what is missing and email client directly from Lacerte (securely). This list is trackable and identifiable within one place.
- Email client directly from Lacerte, securely
Topic 5: Customer Panel
Interviewed by: Jim Buffington, CPA
Two Southern California firm owners discuss how using QBOA and QBO has impacted their business, clients and profit margins. They each have implemented a majority cloud based operations, using QBOA for their firm to manage client relations and project tracking.
Topic 6: Workflow and Practice Management
Presented by: Tony Hunt
- Use QBOA to manage your tax/accounting firm
- 70% New Users (business owners) choose QBO over QBD
- QBO is more secure than QBD, using error checking & closed loops to avoid improper actions
- QBO is more efficient than QBD, using real time data
- QBO provides your team members with more time to provide proactive guidance to clients
- Becoming QBO Certified (free with free CPE) provides FREE advertising
- Becoming QBO Advanced Certified (free) puts you to the top of ProAdvisor Advertising list
Intuit issued the following “Learning Objectives” that was promised to be discussed during the event:
- Utilize new and existing capabilities in Lacerte to save time preparing returns
- Improve your workflow around collecting documents from clients
- Improve your ability to safeguard taxpayer data in your office
- Take advantage of the improved integration across tax and accounting
- Begin using the practice management features within QuickBooks Online Accountant to manage work in your office
- Better plan for future technologies in the tax and accounting industry
The event delivered, in my opinion, on its promises to assist current users in maximizing Lacerte during this next tax season. They also provided firm owners and accounting professionals with the direction Intuit feels the industry is going, and how the company is preparing to help accountants professionals stay ahead of this transaction.
It is a great event to attend and if you have the ability, I highly suggest you try to attend in 2018.
Rebecca A. Casarez, CPA is the founder of ProAdvisor CPA. She is an experienced CPA with a demonstrated history of working in the accounting industry assisting business owners and accounting professionals. She is a strong leader who provides bookkeeping, financial accounting, tax planning and tax preparation services to business owners and individuals alike. She is also a Co-Founder of Green Ledger CPA. “The Grass is Greener on the side you water”. Follow her @ProAdvisorCPA.