CrossLink is owned by Petz Enterprises, Inc., a family owned business that started in 1964. Petz Enterprises worked with the IRS during its initial consideration of electronic 1040 filing, and in 1987 released CrossLink as an add-on to existing tax software programs that did not support electronic filing or tax related financial products. In 1994 the product evolved into a fully-functional tax preparation application based around electronic tax return filing.
There are three desktop-based and one web-based version of CrossLink available:
- CrossLink 1040 allows you to create individual federal, state, and local tax returns. All 50 states are included in CrossLink 1040, but U.S. territories such as Puerto Rico and Guam are not supported.
- CrossLink for Business allows you to prepare federal returns, and includes these forms: 1041 Fiduciary, 1065 Partnership, 1120 Corporation, and 1120 S-Corporation. State returns are also available.
- CrossLink for Business Plus includes the capabilities of CrossLink for Business, but also adds these forms: 706 Estate, 709 Gift, 990 Exempt, and 5500 Benefit Plan.
- CrossLink Multi-Site Online is a web-based version of CrossLink 1040 that allows up to 200 returns to be prepared per location.
Cross-Link has some groundbreaking features:
- The ability to send text messages to your clients from within CrossLink, which you can use for both customer service and marketing purposes.
- Support for electronic signature pads, which minimizes the amount of paper copies that you have to keep on hand.
- A new Scan and Store option allows you to use a hand-scanner to use a "point and shoot" approach to capturing source documents without leaving your desk.
Other new features for 2009 include:
- Online Electronic Return Originator (ERO) Enrollment with the Internal Revenue Service.
- Online ERO Configuration/Control through the CrossLink Customer Support Web Portal.
- A Management Dashboard allows you to access tax return information for remote sites.
- State Only Fling allows state returns to be filed without a completed Federal return.
- Enhanced State Amendment functionality eliminates the need to rekey original values from the previously filed return.
- Automatic return locking prevents tampering or accidental alteration. Returns rejected by the IRS are automatically unlocked, and you have the option to override the lock when needed.
- Archive or Print option allows you to designate which return copies should be printed, and which should be stored electronically. Thus your preparer copies can be saved automatically in digital form, while client copies will automatically route to your printer.
- Cash card option allows preparers to disburse financial products on a card rather than by check or direct deposit, which provides another line of service for you.
The application doesn't offer Spanish language forms, but multi-lingual support is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week during tax season. Training options include self-paced online tutorials and instructor-led classes. A dedicated account team will help you convert your data from your existing package and help you get started quickly. Since the program is geared for high-volume production, it doesn't include what-if capabilities such as lease-versus-buy or maximizing retirement contributions, but does offer a Tax Estimator feature. What the program does offer, though, is blazing fast speed. A video on the CrossLink web site demonstrates how fast the software runs with over 600,000 returns loaded on a single Windows XP computer. Further, the program allows you to generate and track client invoices and payments within the software.
In short, this lean, production oriented software is best suited for tax practices that focus on rapid return preparation and ancillary financial services, such as storefront practices. However, any preparer that wishes to work more efficiently and virtually paperless should take a look at CrossLink.