Wednesday, February 11, 2009

What is a TaxWise User?

It will save a lot of wasted discussion and misunderstanding if we realize that the term User in TaxWise refers to a computer account, and not to the individual using the account.

There are three predefined USERs in TaxWise: ADMIN, GUEST, and TRAINING. ADMIN can create additional other Users (Account Names).

There are three predefined GROUPs in TaxWise: Administrators, Training, and SuperUsers. A group defines the capabilities or privileges of its members. An account which is a member of multiple groups has the privileges of all the groups of which the account is a member. What is a capability of privilege? It is something that could be done - not necessarily must be done or should be done.

ADMIN belongs to the Administrators Group. Guest belongs to the SuperUser Group, and Training belongs to the Training Group.

What are the current requirements for a USER to use TaxWise. Each user needs to have a password assigned by ADMIN, something which has changed from the past. In addition, the password has to meet other requirements.

While it may appear silly to not allow ADMIN to create new returns, there is actually for a very good reason. That way it prevents an ADMIN who is doing administration accidentally starting returns, leaving the workstation, and accidentally allowing the next user to have those privileges without realizing it.

At many sites, a single user in the SuperUsers group is used to create and prepare returns even though different people may be prepare the returns. This works for a small number of preparers and returns prepared at the site, and is a very convenient way of doing things. However, when there are a larger number of volunteers, say more than 8, and the site prepares in excess of 20 returns in a session, this becomes cumbersome. (1) it is not possible to keep track of who prepared which return unless each preparer consciously indicates his or her identity on the return (2) it requires a large amount of scrolling to find a return of interest, particularly when trying to identify which returns to e-file when they are mixed among returns that are not ready to e-file. Keeping the returns of each preparer separate in individual user accounts makes it more manageable to find a return, and identifies quickly which preparer is familiar with a return should questions arise. An alternate arrangement used at some sites is to create a new user for each day's returns. This has the advantage of keeping the bulk of returns prepared within the same time period together, but still has the problem of not keeping track of the preparer of individual returns.

These comments come frome experience with the TaxWise Desktop product. They may not be applicable for the TaxWise Online product.

When we say that a Group can do something, it means that anyone logged in as a user belonging to that group can that that.

Members of the Administrators Group have all the privileges possible, except for starting new Tax Returns, or owning any tax returns. Two capabilities of the Administrators Group are the ability to create new User Accounts and Groups beyond what are already predefined in TaxWis, and the ability to create and modify Tax Form Defaults.

SuperUsers have all the privileges or capabilities of Administrators except for the two unique privileges. In addition, they can start new returns, and own returns they start unless the return is subsequently assigned to another account, or if the returns are assigned to them.

When all preparers use SuperUser accounts to prepare returns, there may be undesirable consequences. Some preparers may get a little adventurous, and accidentally connect to the Electronic filing center and get emails and acknowledgements downloaded to their machines, which is not desirable. One way then is to let preparers use accounts which are members of a group that does not allow interaction with the transmitting center.

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