Website of the Month: Practitioners Publishing Company

By Susan B. Anders

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NOVEMBER 2005 - Practitioners Publishing Company (PPC), part of the Thomson family of companies, provides a variety of accounting practitioner materials. While its website, ppc.thomson.com, is geared toward marketing the company’s products and communicating with customers, many excellent free resources are of interest to professionals and students.

PPC’s website is organized around its product lines and quick links to related companies. The homepage is designed with a left-side index for the main product groupings: accounting and auditing, tax compliance and planning, consulting, practice management, and CPE/training. The center presents a text box for each product group, with links to two or three highlighted items. The right side includes customer help functions and the results of a recent poll question. A horizontal menu bar at the top of the homepage provides links to related companies, such as Quickfinder and MicroMash, personalized webpages for PPC customers, and the site index. The main pages for each product line mimic the homepage in appearance. More-specific resources are delegated to the main pages for the product groupings. For example, the accounting and auditing homepage contains a drop-down menu that includes accounting, audit and attest, compilation and review, and nonprofit organizations. It also offers “more options,” which include the latest AICPA and FASB developments and downloads and updates. The center of the main product pages includes featured products, news and views, and five-minute updates.

Navigation on PPC’s website is easy. Some links open in separate windows. Some resources can be accessed by multiple routes and others cannot, but the organization of the website is fairly logical. One useful feature is the option on HTML documents to save, e-mail, or make a clean printout of the document.

Free Resources

While some resources are accessible only by customers, many current materials are free. The PPC homepage features free resources, providing text boxes highlighting online demos and quick tours, e-practice aids, and tax advice rules. The product line main pages also include links to free articles on timely issues and other topic-specific materials. PPC also offers free CPE for beta-testing its courses via the CPE/training homepage. Its online demos and quick tours offer short videos and PowerPoint presentations that demonstrate PPC’s accounting and tax software products as well as the e-tools and e-practice aids and sample engagement letters, among others.

Accounting and Tax Resources

Free newsletters and articles on the accounting and auditing homepage address current matters. At the time of this review, the topics included Hurricane Katrina, the latest SSARS pronouncements, EITF issues, and disclosure checklist updates. Additionally, payroll withholding tables and a list of recent FASB, AICPA, GASB, and PCAOB documents and effective dates are available in PDF format.

As year-end tax planning and a new compliance season approach, tax preparers can find excellent up-to-date free resources on PPC’s website. A textbox on the homepage links users to two PPC Tax Action Memos concerning recent AICPA and IRS Circular 230 rules for written tax advice and covered opinions. The tax compliance and planning homepage offers free articles on Hurricane Katrina effects and the increase in the IRS standard mileage rate, among others. A handy updated quick-access federal tax data sheet presents 2003 through 2005 standard deductions, personal and dependent exemptions, tax brackets, and many other amounts. The PPC product catalog offers a complete sample of the PPC Tax Action Bulletin which, at the time of this review, included a sample of year-end client letters and a tax action memo on Schedule M-3.


Susan B. Anders, PhD, CPA, is an associate professor of accounting at St. Bonaventure University, St. Bonaventure, N.Y.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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