When transferring a tax-payer's information forward from previous years, the ProSeries software does not import information regarding any estimated payments which may have been set-up for the tax-payer within those previous years' returns.
For example, if during the 2018 tax-year's filing season (2019 calendar year) a tax-preparer had established with a tax-payer(s) that they would be making estimated quarterly-payments to the Federal Government throughout the upcoming 2019 tax-year, those estimates are not being brought forward into the 2019 tax-year's software when the tax-payer's information is transferred forward.
These estimated tax payments inform the tax-preparer of a tax-payer's financial situation; and if ProSeries were to import this information into the newer tax-year along with all of the tax-payer(s) other information -- it would improve the preparer's understanding of the tax-payer's status.
ProSeries should import that Estimated Tax Payment information from the previous year's return, and then ideally -- generate errors within the return being prepared, prompting the tax-preparer to inquire of the tax-payer about whether or not those estimated payments were made.
Doing this would help tax-preparer's to maintain a more-complete view of the tax-payer's financial circumstances, and would help the tax-payer(s) by further ensuring that the person(s) preparing their tax return is accounting for the payments that they made based on the previous year's estimates.
It doesn't bring them forward because it doesn't know that they've actually been paid.
Don't you have a copy of the clients last year return in front of you while preparing the current year return? The client letter with the ES payment schedule should be right in front. It's your responsibility as the preparer to ask the questions, this isn't DIY software that walks you through an interview.
I agree with Lisa, but as a compromise we could meet in the middle. I have some clients who <gasp> don't file their returns until October. If they have ES payments, I enter 1Q, 2Q & 3Q amounts "already paid" on the ES Wks and have the system calculate what's left to pay in 4Q. Entries made in the "already paid" fields could be pulled forward to next year. Ideally there would be a field added to the ES Wks for date paid. Not everyone (shocking, I know) actually makes their ES payments on time.
I agree that bringing forward the estimates which were entered as "already-paid" should be a no-brainer. I will have to look into it some more, but there may already be a way to use the software and make that happen.
I understand that the software would have no way of knowing if the payments were made or not. I also understand that it is the tax-preparer's responsibility to ask certain questions of the tax-payer who's return is being prepared. That was implicit in my suggestion.
I am suggesting that it would be useful to the tax-preparer if ProSeries brought forward a Tax Payments Worksheet which would indicate to the preparer that estimates were created for the tax-payer in the previous year.
As Rick indicated in his response, tax-payers (like tax-preparers) are imperfect. Many arrive to their appointments lacking their previous year's tax returns, even though we instruct them to bring them to our meetings together. Others arrive lacking their tax-relevant information for the current filing year. Our role as tax-preparers is complicated, but it can be made easier by using tools like ProSeries.
ProSeries already brings forward forms like 1099's, and W-2's from the tax-payer's past tax-returns. I am suggesting that it would be helpful to the tax-preparer for ProSeries to bring the Estimated Payments created in previous years into whatever tax-return is being prepared at that time.
Our office employs more than one tax-preparer, and it would be unreasonable to expect each preparer to have a complete understanding of every one of our tax-payer's financial circumstances at any given time throughout the busy filing season.
ProSeries, by compiling tax-payer's data, serves as a useful tool for our preparers to use as a reference while generating tax returns (that is one of the main reasons we pay for the software in the first place).
As far as the ProSeries software "walking" the preparer through an interview, there are certain forms and prompts within the software which explicitly serve in that capacity. Form 8867 (the Paid-Preparer's Due Diligence Checklist) comes to mind as an example. That form is designed to used as a checklist by the person preparing the return, so that they can ensure vital information has been gathered, and strict guidelines for filing have been met.
Hope this clarifies my suggestion, and thank you both for responding!