2011 tax software survey.
This year's tax preparation software survey by The Tax Adviser and the Journal of Accountancy yielded more than 10,000 responses from readers, showing what tax professionals like and dislike about the tax preparation software they used this tax season. As in years past, price and ease of use have a large influence on preparers' feelings about their software. For the first time this year, the survey also shows that having the responsibility for choosing the tax preparation software product affects the user's assessment of the product.
As in past years, three products led the pack in the number of respondents In the context of marketing research, a representative sample drawn from a larger population of people from whom information is collected and used to develop or confirm marketing strategy. using them. Users of ProSystem fx Tax (CCH CCH Colegio de Ciencias y Humanidades (Spanish)
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CCH Country Club Hills (Fairfax City, VA, USA) ), Lacerte (Intuit in·tu·it
tr.v. in·tu·it·ed, in·tu·it·ing, in·tu·its Usage Problem
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[Back-formation from intuition. ), and UltraTax CS (Thomson Reuters Reuters
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three-quarters npl → of the responses; the remaining one-fourth were divided among, in decreasing order, ProSeries (Intuit), GoSystem Tax RS (Thomson Reuters), Drake drake
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2. loliumtemulentum. (Drake Software), ATX See ATX motherboard.
(hardware, standard) ATX - An open PC motherboard specification by Intel.
ATX is a development of the Baby AT specification with the motherboard rotated 90 degrees in the chassis. (CCH Small Firm Services), Tax Works (RedGear Technologies), and seven other products that yielded fewer than 64 responses each and are not included in this analysis. Similar to last year, average overall ratings this year for the "big three" products were a virtual tie and in the same order as previously: UltraTax (4.5 on a scale of 1-5, with 5 the highest), followed by Lacerte (4.4) and ProSystem (4.3). (See Exhibit 1.) In the second tier of products by number of users, Drake once again generated the highest overall esteem (4.4), followed by ATX and ProSeries (both 4.2), TaxWorks (3.9), and GoSystem (3.4). The survey was conducted online in May 2011.
Exhibit 1: Overall ratings All ATX Drake GoSystem Lacerte products Tax RS Overall rating 4.3 4.2 4.4 3.4 4.4 How easy was the 4.4 4.6 4.8 4.1 4.5 update/installation process? How easy was it to 4.1 4.3 4.4 3.3 4.4 use? How well did your 4.2 4.4 4.7 3.5 4.3 software handle updates to forms? How well did your 4.2 4.1 4.4 3.5 4.3 software handle transfers of data within returns? How easy was 4.2 4.2 4.5 3.5 4.2 paperless electronic filing (including, for example, sending PDF attachments) with the tax software you used? How well did your 4.0 3.9 4.2 3.2 4.0 software handle multistate business returns? ProSeries ProSystem TaxWorks UltraTax fx CS Overall rating 4.2 4.3 3.9 4.5 How easy was the 4.6 4.0 4.1 4.5 update/installation process? How easy was it to 4.4 3.9 4.2 4.3 use? How well did your 4.4 4.0 3.9 4.5 software handle updates to forms? How well did your 4.4 4.0 4.0 4.4 software handle transfers of data within returns? How easy was 4.2 4.1 4.2 4.3 paperless electronic filing (including, for example, sending PDF attachments) with the tax software you used? How well did your 3.9 3.9 3.8 4.2 software handle multistate business returns? Average rating by each product's users on a 1-5 scale, with 5 being the best.
Another possible indication of overall satisfaction might be inferred from the percentage of respondents saying they plan to use the same software next season. Ninety-four percent of users of Drake and UltraTax CS plan to stick with them, followed by ProSystem fx (89%), ATX (86.3%), and a tie between Lacerte and ProSeries (84%).
Profile of Users
The products are designed for the most part to cater to firms of a particular size and scope, although some products were used across a wide range of firm sizes. La-certe, for example, showed up mostly in firms of between 2 and 20 preparers, although it ranked relatively high for one-person shops, which made up 20% of respondents using it. The leading product for one-person firms (which accounted for 18% of all respondents) was ATX, for which 56% of users were sole practitioners. At the other end of the spectrum was GoSystem Tax RS, where 37% of users were in firms of more than 500 preparers (which for all products were only 4.2% of respondents). As a result, GoSystem was also the only software for which respondents who had no input in choosing the system far outnumbered Outnumbered is a British sitcom that aired on BBC One in 2007. It stars Hugh Dennis and Claire Skinner as a mother and father who are outnumbered by their three children. those who had a hand in selecting it, by a factor of more than five to one. Nearly all respondents prepared a significant number of business returns, which for 48% of respondents constituted between 26% and 50% of returns prepared. A majority of users (54%) said that half to three-quarters of returns they prepared were individual returns, with another 19% saying that individual returns made up 76% of all of the returns they prepared.
Features Users Liked Most and Least
When we asked what single attribute (1) In relational database management, a field within a record.
(2) In object technology, a single element of data. See instance attribute and static attribute. of their software users most prized, ease of use got the most responses (28.7%). (See Exhibit 2.) ProSeries and Lacerte won the most regard for this (44.7% and 43.6%, respectively). Respondents who had control over the software selection process tended to regard their software as easier to use than those who did not. Users who had made the software purchasing decision (all brands) gave it an average 4.3 out of 5 for ease of use, while those with no involvement in the choice gave it an average 3.7.
Exhibit 2: What did you like best about the tax preparation software you used for the 2010 tax season? All ATX Drake GoSystem Lacerte products Tax RS Accuracy 18.3% 3.3% 2.9% 12.9% 22.1% Conversion process 0.1% 0.0% 0.2% 0.4% 0.1% Ease of importing data 2.2% 0.8% 0.0% 5.6% 0.7% Ease of use 28.7% 21.7% 18.0% 1.5% 14.6% Installation process 0.6% 0.6% 0.0% 3.9% 0.9% Integration with other 6.5% 0.3% 0.0% 4.5% 0.7% software Learning curve 3.1% 0.8% 1.2% 4.1% 4.9% Number of 21.4% 23.6% 5.8% 31.5% 16.7% forms/comprehensiveness Price 8.0% 43.1% 48.3% 1.5% 1.8% Support 6.3% 1.1% 20.7% 9.6% 3.9% Tax research included in 1.3% 2.8% 1.2% 0.7% 1.1% package Other 3.6% 1.9% 1.7% 11.8% 3.6% ProSeries ProSystem TaxWorks UltraTax fx CS Accuracy 11.8% 23.4% 3.7% 18.4% Conversion process 0.2% 0.0% 0.0% 0.1% Ease of importing data 1.0% 2.4% 1.5% 4.0% Ease of use 44.7% 19.3% 23.7% 27.5% Installation process 0.9% 0.3% 0.0% 0.2% Integration with other 3.1% 6.2% 0.0% 19.0% software Learning curve 5.3% 2.3% 2.2% 2.1% Number of 8.2% 33.5% 5.2% 16.0% forms/comprehensiveness Price 17.5% 0.9% 49.6% 2.7% Support 1.8% 6.4% 12.6% 7.5% Tax research included in 1.8% 1.5% 0.0% 0.9% package Other 3.6% 3.9% 1.5% 1.7% Percentages are of users who indicated that they predominantly used that product, except "All products" column, which shows percentage of all respondents. Some columns do not add up to 100% dueto rounding.
For the next best-liked feature, number of forms/comprehensiveness, the spotlight Spotlight can refer to at least three types of lighting:
A thumbs up or thumbs down is a common gesture represented by a closed fist held with the thumb extended upward or downward in approval or for that attribute (19%).
Not surprisingly, the feature of all products most likely to hit a sour note was price, which was faulted by significant numbers of users of Lacerte (56.6%), Ultra-Tax (53.7%), and ProSystem fx (45.3%). (See Exhibit 3.) Correspondingly, price was the factor most often cited by the relatively small number of respondents who reported switching software in 2011 (fewer than 500 for all products), predominantly pre·dom·i·nant
1. Having greatest ascendancy, importance, influence, authority, or force. See Synonyms at dominant.
2. by former users of the same three products. On the other hand, nearly half the users of TaxWorks (49.6%) and Drake (48.3%) considered those products' price their most attractive point, followed closely by ATX (43.1%). But price is not everything, and respondents who used any of those three products last year but switched to another product this year most often cited concerns about accuracy and ease of use as the reason for the switch. However, those having switched in this case represent the opinions of only a handful of respondents--fewer than 45 for all three of these lower-cost software systems combined. (See Exhibit 4.)
Exhibit 3: What did you like least about the tax preparation software you used for the 2010 tax season? All Atx Drake GoSysten Lacerte products Tax RS Accuracy 2.8% 6.1% 3.1% 12.4% 2.4% Conversion process 1.4% 2.6% 3.4% 0.4% 0.6% Ease of importing data 2.9% 6.7% 7.2% 3.1% 2.3% Ease of use 6.5% 5.3% 3.4% 24.7% 1.5% Installation process 1.6% 1.5% 0.3% 0.6% 1.2% Integration with other 6.0% 13.2% 19.1% 5.0% 5.6% software Learning curve 5.8% 4.4% 9.8% 8.5% 1.2% Number of 5.4% 3.5% 11.3% 5.0% 5.4% forms/comprehensiveness Price 41.7% 7.6% 1.5% 12.7% 56.6% Support 5.8% 12.0% 2.6% 7.7% 6.0% Tax research included in 8.0% 13.5% 12.4% 6.1% 6.7% package Other 12.2% 23.7% 26.0% 13.8% 10.3% ProSeries ProSystem TaxWorks UltraTax fx CS Accuracy 1.9% 2.1% 9.4% 0.8% Conversion process 1.7% 0.9% 1.6% 2.4% Ease of importing data 2.9% 2.7% 4.7% 1.9% Ease of use 3.3% 10.5% 2.3% 3.3% Installation process 1.4% 1.9% 7.8% 1.6% Integration with other 5.1% 4.8% 10.2% 4.4% software Learning curve 2.3% 8.9% 4.7% 6.4% Number of 17.9% 2.9% 6.3% 2.1% forms/comprehensiveness Price 28.6% 45.3% 3.9% 53.7% Support 7.5% 5.0% 9.4% 3.6% Tax research included in 12.4% 5.2% 14.8% 9.5% package Other 15.1% 9.8% 25.0% 10.1% Percentages are of users who indicated that they predominantly used that product, except "All products" column, which shows percentage of all respondents. Some columns do not add up to 100% dueto rounding. Exhibit 4: Why did you switch from the software you used for the 2009 taxseason? All ATX Drake GoSystem Lacerte PRODUCTS Tax RS Accuracy 10.1% 27.8% 57.1% 29.0% 2.9% Conversion process 3.2% 5.6 14.3 0.0% 0.7% Ease of importing data 5.4% 5.6% 28.6 12.9% 3.6% Ease of use 17.8% 27.8% 57.1% 25.8% 2.9% Installation process 3.4% 11.1% 7.1% 0.0% 0.7% Integration with other 17.1% 22.2% 14.3% 19.4% 20.7% software Learning curve 5.9% 0.0% 21.4% 6.5% 2.1% Number of 14.6% 22.2% 35.7% 19.4% 12.1% forms/comprehensiveness Price 46.4% 22.2% 7.1% 16.1% 55.0% Support 14.6% 22.2% 21.4% 22.6% 9.3% Tax research included in 4.0% 5.6% 7.1% 0.0% 3.6% package Other 27.9% 22.2% 14.3% 38.7% 26.4% ProSystem TaxWorks UltraTax fx CS Accuracy 6.1% 4.7% 45.5% 1.5% Conversion process 2.0% 3.0% 9.1 2.9% Ease of importing data 6.1% 4.1% 18.2 2.9% Ease of use 8.2% 23.1% 45.5% 17.6% Installation process 0.0% 4.7% 9.1% 2.9% Integration with other 12.2% 20.7% 36.4% 1.5% software Learning curve 2.0% 8.9% 9.1% 7.4% Number of 26.5% 1.8% 27.3% 8.8% forms/comprehensiveness Price 51.0% 53.8% 36.4% 57.4% Support 20.4% 11.2% 27.3% 11.8% Tax research included in 2.0% 4.1% 18.2% 2.9% package Other 18.4% 30.8% 0.0% 33.8% Shows percentage of respondents who answered that they switched from the particular software; multiple responses were permitted.
Not having all the forms needed to prepare a return was seldom cited as the biggest drawback DRAWBACK, com. law. An allowance made by the government to merchants on the reexportation of certain imported goods liable to duties, which, in some cases, consists of the whole; in others, of a part of the duties which had been paid upon the importation. ; only 5.4% cited "number of forms/comprehensiveness" as the feature they liked least. However, when the survey asked separately whether their software contained all the forms they needed, 24% of users said no, including a majority of GoSystem users (52%), followed by users of ProSeries (43%). Among the top three products by numbers of users, UltraTax had the lowest percentage of dissatisfaction in this area (10%), with Lacerte and ProSys-tem fx at 26.9% and 23.3%, respectively. However, ATX ranked particularly well in this regard, with only a little less than 6% of users reporting not having needed forms. The data, however, did not indicate what forms users of any particular product needed.
Data Transfers, Updates, and Filing
Automatic (and accurate) transfer of data from one form to another within a return can make a big difference in speed and accuracy of preparing that return, and users rated Ultra-Tax, ProSeries, and Drake highly in this regard (all three received 4.4 out of 5). Drake also stood out in users' estimation estimation
In mathematics, use of a function or formula to derive a solution or make a prediction. Unlike approximation, it has precise connotations. In statistics, for example, it connotes the careful selection and testing of a function called an estimator. for handling updates to forms (4.7 out of 5). GoSystem and TaxWorks ranked lowest on this question at 3.5 and 3.9, respectively. Drake also ranked high on ease of general updates and installation (4.8), and each product averaged above a 4 on this question. Drake ranked highest in ease of paperless electronic filing (4.5), with only GoSystem ranking below a 4 (3.5).
Although integration with other accounting software was seldom considered a product's biggest like or dislike (6.5% and 6%, respectively), users were generally unenthusiastic about their software's ability in this regard. Here, Ultra Tax held a clear edge (4.1 out of 5), with the rest in the low to mid 3s.
Tech Support Still Needed
A nearly identical percentage of respondents to last year, 82% (down one percent-age point), reported needing technical support from their software's manufacturer. (See Exhibit 5.) Most, however, said the support was easy or very easy to obtain (76%) and was good or very good (74%). ProSeries and ATX prompted the lowest percentage of help requests at 61.1% and 71.4%, respectively, while 91.6% of Drake users and practically all users of TaxWorks (97%) sought assistance. Despite greater availability of online help in recent years, more users reached for the phone when flummoxed (95%) than queried by e-mail (30%) or online chat (16%). Most users (74%) said they received no training from their software provider, but those who did mostly rated it good or very good (67%).
Exhibit 5: Technical support All ATX Drake Gosytem Lacerte ProSeries products Tax RS Did you need 82.0% 71.4% 91.6% 87.9% 81.1% 61.1% tech support? * How easy was 4.1 3.9 4.8 3.7 3.9 3.9 it to get? How good 4.0 3.8 4.5 3.4 4.0 3.9 was it? Received support by: ** Phone 94.6% 94.2% 96.6% 98.0% 89.1% 90.3% E-mail 30.2% 32.7% 40.4% 18.9% % 39.1 19.4% Livechal/IM 16.2% 14.4% 2.6% 2.5% 27.1% 30.8% Other 2.9% 3.1 0.8% 1.0% 3.0% 2.8% ProSytem TaxWorks UltraTax fx CS Did you need 85.6% 97.0% 85.4% tech support? * How easy was 4.1 4.2 4.3 it to get? How good 4.0 3.9 4.3 was it? Received support by: ** Phone 97.5% 94.7% 96.6% E-mail 23.2% 45.0% 33.5% Livechal/IM 17.8% 15.3% 4.5% Other 3.7% 3.8% 2.5% * Percentage of each product's users answering "yes." ** Percentage of those users who received support; multiple answers permitted. All other answers: Average rating on a 1-5 scale, with 5 being best.
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follow-up plan article in the September September: see month. issue.
Full survey results for each product are available online at tinyurl TinyURL (tinyurl.com) is a web service created by Kevin Gilbertson that provides short aliases to redirect long URLs. Gilbertson, a web developer, launched the service in January 2002 because he wanted to be able to link directly to newsgroup postings which frequently had .com/2011softwa resurvey re·sur·vey
tr.v. re·sur·veyed, re·sur·vey·ing, re·sur·veys
To survey or study anew.
A new survey or study.
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