NationsBank Corp. has signed a five-year technology-services contract with Computer Language Research, a tax-compliance software and services company.

The agreement calls for the firm to provide tax software, service, and support for NationsBank's trust departments across the country.

Based in Carrollton, Tex., Computer Language Research has an 11-year relationship with the NationsBank unit in that state. The company also sells to more than 350 banks nationwide, processing more than 400,000 tax filings a year.

J. Lanham Higginbotham 3d, senior vice president of tax compliance at NationsBank, said the relationship with Computer Language Research will position the bank for further growth in the trust area.

Potential Increase in Volume

"We currently file close to 40,000 returns each year but that figure could potentially grow to 80,000," he said. "We chose a company that could handle that kind of increase in volume."

According Rose Lee, a market specialist for Computer Language Research, when it comes to helping customers file tax returns, bank trust departments have to do double duty.

Not only must they file 1041 disclosure forms with the government, but they must provide trust customers with tax documents as well.

This can be a time-consuming and complex task -- particularly for an institution like NationsBank, whose clients often have significant oil and gas holdings that are subject to complicated tax-filing rules.

In fact, one NationsBank trust client's holdings are so large and complex that Computer Language Research processes the company's single trust account in much the same way it processes all the trust accounts of an individual bank.

"Over the years, his trust worksheets have been over 1,800 pages long and Computer Language Research has delivered our hard copy to a loading dock using a forklift," he said.

Using software called SmartBridge, Computer Language Research provides banks with an electronic link into the tax processor's mainframe. Each month, for example, NationsBanks, sends Computer Language Research a magnetic tape of trust department activity.

Computer Language Research, in turn, massages and stores that information for upcoming tax work. During the year, it also provide banks with information and detail reports for review.

SmartBridge utilizes an "expert system" to scan the information and detect potential errors such as incorrect disbursement scheduling or unfamiliar social security numbers.

According to Ms. Lee, this year-around fine-tuning of the information provides banks with a significant advantage during tax season, a time when trust departments are stressed to the limit. Ms. Sullivan is a freelance writer based in New York.

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