Evaluating Tax Software: An Assessment of the Products CPAs Use

Article excerpt

Tax-preparation-software products generally received higher marks from practitioners this year than last year. That's the conclusion of a survey conducted by the National Association of Tax Professionals (NATP) and shared with the JofA.

A total of 977 NATP members responded to the survey, reporting their experience with the products they had used to prepare 476,000 tax returns earlier this year. Respondents prepared an average of 497 returns each.

Although NATP members assessed 26 different software packages for the survey, only 14 were included in the final report (see exhibit 1, page 39). Products that received less than 10 assessments were excluded because their results would not be statistically valid.

Users ranked tax software products from 5 (very satisfied) to 1 (very dissatisfied). Based on these rankings, users responded with satisfaction ratings averaging 3.99, up from 3.84 a year ago (see exhibit 2, page 40). The product to receive the highest score was Dunphy System's 1040 Professional Tax Prep. Interestingly, Dunphy also showed one of the biggest year-to-year improvements--rising to 4.50 this year from 3.43 last year, when the average for all the products was 3.81.

Customer support also gained. The average score in this category for the 14 products was 3.91, compared with 3.75 the year before. The product with the highest support rating was Taxslayer with a score of 4.39; it was not rated last year.

Network support mightily improved this year. The average rating rose to 3.95 from 3.07 last year, with Dunphy once again leading the pack.

More preparers offered clients the use of electronic filing this year: 89%, up from 79% last year (see exhibit 3, page 42). The survey respondents reported that 60% of their federal returns were filed this way. Some 49% charged their clients for e-filing, up a bit from 48% last year.

[EXHIBIT 3 OMITTED]

 
Exhibit 1: Tax Software Vendors 
 
Vendor             Tax program          Address 
 
2nd Story          TaxACT               5925 Dry Creek Lane, NE, 
Software                                Cedar Rapids, IA 52402 
 
ATX Forms          Max, Saber           52 Sweden St., P.O. Box 1040, 
                                        Caribou, ME 04736 
 
CCH                ProSystem fx         21250 Hawthorne Blvd., 
                                        Torrance, CA 90503 
 
Creative           UItraTax             7322 Newman Blvd., 
Solutions                               Dexter, MI 48130 
 
Drake Software     Drake Tax Solution   235 E. Palmer St., 
                                        Franklin, NC 28734 
 
Dunphy Systems     1040 Professional    6740 Huntley Rd., Suite 103, 
                   Tax Prep             Columbus, OH 43229 
 
Intuit             Pro Series           6220 Greenwich Dr., 
                                        San Diego, CA 92122 
 
Lacerte Software   Lacerte 1040         5601 Headquarters Dr., 
                   Tax Software         Plano, TX 75024 
 
Laser Systems      TaxWorks             350 N. 400 West, 
                                        Kaysville, UT 84037 
 
Micro Vision       Tax Relief 1040      140 Fell Ct., 
Software           for Windows          Hauppauge, NY 11788 
 
Orrtax Software    IntelliTax           13208 NE 20th St., 
                                        Bellevue, WA 98005 
 
Rhodes Financial   TaxSlayer            610 Ronald Reagan Dr., 
Services                                Evans, GA 30809 
 
Tax$imple          Tax$imple            8 Emery Ave., 
                                        Randolph, NJ 07869 
 
Universal          TaxWise              6 Mathis Dr., NW, 
Tax Systems                             Rome, GA 30165 
 
Vendor             Telephone      Internet address 
 
2nd Story          800-573-4287   www.taxact.com 
Software 
 
ATX Forms          800-944-8883   www. …