Evaluating Tax Software

An assessment of the products CPAs use.
BY STANLEY ZAROWIN

   

ax-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 ). 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 ). 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 ). 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 (also see exhibit 4: Software Product Details ).

STANLEY ZAROWIN is a senior editor on the JofA . Mr. Zarowin is an employee of the AICPA, and his views, as expressed in this article, do not necessarily reflect the views of the Institute. Official positions are determined through certain specific committee procedures, due process and deliberation.

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