By Paul Bonner, Journal of Accountancy
It's hard to imagine a tax season without preparers' forming opinions about their return preparation software — and perhaps wondering how things might have gone with another product. Consequently, the JofA and The Tax Adviser are thankful for the thousands of CPAs who took the time to share their perspectives on their software's performance once again in this annual survey. Professional tax preparation software represents a crucial tool for CPAs' practices and, as many of them have said clearly in this and previous surveys, a substantial financial investment as well.
This year, of course, was the first in which tax preparers had to apply most of the many new and altered Code provisions brought about by the law known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), P.L. 115-97. It was with some suspense that, when filing season began, practitioners looked to how well the software providers had revised and adapted their systems to take the new laws into account. Encouragingly, given the extent of the changes, most survey respondents gave their software relatively high marks for its handling of TCJA-related changes (see the sidebar "Software Kept Up With TCJA, CPAs Say," at bottom of page).
The survey also for a fourth year asked about the incidence of taxpayer identity theft uncovered among respondents' clients, and for a third year, this problem abated, with a 5-percentage-point decline from the prior year in respondents reporting it, to 21% (see the sidebar "ID Theft Falls Still Further," below).