Right before tax season began and we abandoned all pretense of sanity, we moved one of our admin staff, Sandi, from the front office to a back office, because we needed the front office space for a new admin hire. This didn’t appear to be a major office move. Computer. Check. Desk. Check. Chair. Check. All-in-one printer / scanner. Check.
Sandi was all set to use our CCH scan and populate software, called Autoflow. Or so we thought. When she was still in the front office she used a Fujitsu scanner for Autoflow. In her new office, she had the same Brother all-in-one scanner / printer that everyone else in the back office uses.
The Brother unit is great for tax preparers, who don’t print much (expensive consumables), but do a fair amount of on the spot scanning when clients visit. I use one, and it works great for me. It has all the same scanning specs as the Fujitsu at half the price, and it’s a color printer as well.
However, Autoflow rejected nearly all of Sandi’s scans with the Brother printer. We tweaked the Brother’s settings, making certain we were getting the same scan quality as the Fujitsu’s. We opened PDF files, side by side, of the identical documents produced by the two scanners. There was no visible difference. One fact remained. Files from the Fujitsu worked with Autoflow and files from the Brother did not.
Having wasted enough of my remaining lifespan, I ordered another Fujitsu with my Amazon Prime account. That’s $900 I won’t have for my SEP this year.
When we started using Autoflow last tax season, we replaced all of our old scanners with Fujitsu scanners after realizing our old scanners wouldn’t work. So why did I expect to get away with a non-Fujitsu scanner this year? The evidence suggests I’m stupid.
Why do the Fujitsu scanners work with scan and populate software and identically configured other brands don’t? Fujitsu scanners work, because that’s what the software developers use and test with. Their OCR software is therefore optimized for Fujitsu scanners, probably unintentionally. They spend little or no time testing with other brands. Scanning is a fundamentally analog activity, and there are just too many brands for developers to test many of them for compatibility. Can you imagine testing every cheap as crap $100 scanner from Best Buy? I’d rather prepare tax returns. Most people would.
It is fair that you must use $900 Fujitsu scanners to get the most out of OCR tax software? That’s a stupid question for CPA’s to ask, given the time we spend telling our clients that they have to comply with tax regs whether the regs are fair or not.
So if you want the benefits of scan and populate tax software, buy Fujitsu scanners. Regrettably, I’m not being paid for this endorsement. If I were being paid, we wouldn’t be talking about fairness, would we?
If the Fujitsu people want me to remove the paragraph about fairness and all mention of how I love our Brother all-in-one’s, you can send money to the address on this site. Make it small bills in a brown paper bag. I wouldn't want people to question my journalistic integrity.
Thanks for reading!
Frank Stitely, CPA, CVA
Clarity Practice Management