Deloitte ranks highest in satisfaction with tax firm performance among the Big Four, according to a study of tax firm performance by J.D. Power and Associates.

The 2004 Tax Firm Performance Study measures satisfaction with tax advisors based on responses from 885 chief financial officers and tax directors.

The Big Four firm took top honors with high marks in the areas of cost, ability to creatively explore alternatives, and advice and recommendations. Deloitte, which scored a 690 out of 1,000 possible points, also ranked highest in audit firm performance among firms managing clients with $1 billion or more in revenue in the J.D. Power and Associates 2004 Audit Firm Performance Study, which was released last week.

Grant Thornton edged out the remaining Big Four firms to take second. Grant Thornton scored a 684, with high marks for advice and recommendations, ability to meet deadlines, and trustworthiness.

"While Sarbanes-Oxley has had a dramatic, and in many cases negative, impact on how CFOs view the performance of their audit firms, the tax industry has so far been shielded from the heat of the new federal auditing rules," said Ron Conlin, partner at J.D. Power and Associates. "It is extremely important for each tax service firm to clearly understand the needs and concerns of their clients and prospective clients. It is easier to switch tax firms than to switch auditors."

Ernst & Young ranked third with a score of 669, just above the industry average of 668, followed by PricewaterhouseCoopers (658), KPMG (639) and BDO Seidman (632).

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