2010 Tax Software Survey

In our 2010 tax software survey, more than 12,000 CPAs assessed the tax preparation products they used this past tax season. Here are the full results on what they liked — and disliked — about their software.

September 2010
by Alexandra DeFelice/Journal of Accountancy

The Journal of Accountancy and The Tax Adviser conducted a survey of AICPA members who prepared 2009 tax returns for a fee to determine which tax preparation software products were the most popular, what aspects of those products preparers liked and what they disliked. Of the 17 products identified for the survey, Drake and UltraTax CS, a Thomson Reuters product, were in a virtual tie for first place for the highest overall rating. Drake scored the highest (4.44) on a scale of one to five, with five meaning “very good.” That was just a hair above UltraTax CS, which received a rating of 4.43. Intuit’s Lacerte product came in a close third, scoring a 4.38, with Thomson’s other package, GoSystem Tax RS, receiving the lowest score, 3.39 (for the overall ratings, see Exhibit 1).

These results mirror those in the 2009 survey in which Drake and UltraTax again were in a virtual tie with 4.439 and 4.436, respectively, Lacerte came in third with 4.43 and GoSystem trailed the rest of the field with 3.55. However, there was a notable rise in the percentage of respondents who disliked the price of their packages and a rise in the percentage of respondents turning to chat for technical support.

There has also been an increasing trend of companies making their products available online, according to feedback from vendors.


The survey, which received 12,018 responses, was conducted in May 2010. The exhibits show detailed answers for nine of the 17 products included in the survey: ATX 1040 (CCH), ATX MAX (CCH), Drake, GoSystem Tax, Lacerte, ProSeries (Intuit), ProSystem fx Tax (CCH), TaxWorks (RedGear Technologies) and UltraTax CS. Information and ratings for products that received fewer than 100 responses — CrossLink 1040 by Petz Enterprises, Great Tax by Greatland Corp., Intuit ProLine Tax Online Edition, TaxACT, TaxSimple, Tax Slayer Pro, TaxWise and TurboTax (Intuit’s consumer product) — are not included in this article, but product information provided by the vendors is available here. Greatland did not submit the requested data, so information about that vendor’s product is not listed.

Products and Users

Users of CCH’s ProSystem fx Tax software once again dominated the number of people completing the survey, comprising 33 percent of the 12,018 total respondents; 22 percent used Lacerte and 19 percent used UltraTax CS. Last year, 28 percent of the 9,776 respondents used ProSystem fx Tax, 19 percent used Lacerte and 14 percent used UltraTax.

Just over half of this year’s respondents prepared returns for more than 500 clients. Among those, 44 percent used ProSystem, 20 percent Lacerte and 19 percent UltraTax. Among respondents who prepared returns for 500 or fewer clients, 26 percent used Lacerte, 21 percent ProSystem and 18 percent UltraTax.

Switching Products Mostly Due to Price

As is generally the case, only a small minority of respondents (six percent) switched their tax preparation software from another product before this year’s tax season. However, that was up from the four percent of total respondents in last year’s survey who said they had switched. While 89 percent of this year’s respondents said they plan to use the same software next season, two percent will not and the remainder said they don’t know.

The primary reason respondents switched was price, with 45 percent of switchers selecting that choice, a large increase from the 36 percent in last year’s survey. Integration with other software came in a distant second, with 18 percent of switchers selecting that reason (see Exhibit 2).

This article has been excerpted from the Journal of Accountancy. View the full article here.