In addition to all the usual difficulties of tax season, many preparers are saying that glitches have appeared in their tax prep software as the filing season kicks off.
In some cases, preparers are finding glitches in software they’ve used successfully for many tax seasons. Many of those affected said that they’re not sure of the reason for the problems, which span software from varied vendors, but did say that it may be more a matter of vendors’ inadequate testing and the rushing of a product to market, rather than fallout from Tax Code upheavals after the fiscal cliff deal.
While glitches in some tax prep products have sparked outrage and frantic last-minute switching to other software providers, some preparers are reporting more minor issues with their software.
“Other than forms, we've had some small minor glitches with the 2012 tax program,” said Enrolled Agent Betsey Buckingham, a member of the tax staff at David C. Murray & Co. CPAs Inc., in Troy, Ohio, and incoming president of the National Association of Enrolled Agents. “The largest glitch is a change in the underlying platform, requiring some of our workstations to run a Windows update in order to be able to open the tax package.”
Whatever the reason, preparers are scrambling to adapt or shift to different software.
“I am not so sure that the post-cliff deal has anything to do with my situation: A particular software provider out there got caught with their pants down,” said Winter Haven, Fla.-based EA Lynn Schmidt of Lynco Financial & Tax Services Inc. “They completely revamped their product and rolled out a piece of garbage that as of today is still not functional.”
“It's not just me. Tax professionals who all use this same company are flocking to other software providers in droves,” Schmidt added. “The problem is, filing season is [open] and we’re just now downloading new software, having to make data conversions and verifying carry-forward calculations, not to mention learning a completely new software program!”
Overhaul of a ‘Perfectly Fine’ Program
EA Mele Perrego, a preparer in Clayton, N.C., and vice president of the North Carolina Society of Enrolled Agents had used her tax software for eight years with satisfaction, though she did add, “Things started to go downhill slightly … in the last couple of years. This year they planned to unveil a whole new program,” she said. “Only problem, it's not ready and they don't really know when it will be ready! Why they would undertake such a massive overhaul of a perfectly fine program and not have at least a working model completed by at least early December, giving them time to work out any bugs, is beyond me.”
Perrego started looking at other software at the end of the first week of January, using the NATP's “Sorting Out Tax Software” survey and searching for other Internet reviews of tax software. She also watched webinars from four software companies, and “played with evaluation programs, all the while hoping against hope that my vendor would miraculously get the program out before I had to switch.”
“On January 18, when for the second day in a row I couldn't even get into my program without calling tech support (minimum wait time 50 minutes), I decided to jump ship, asked for a full refund and purchased another program,” she said. “I couldn’t take the stress and uncertainty anymore.”