New York (Aug. 7, 2002) -- Tax professionals are quickly shifting their allegiance from print and CD-ROMs to the Internet for their daily tax research needs, an Electronic Accountant survey has found.

The online survey, conducted on ElectronicAccountant.com during a four-week period in June and July probed the tax research habits of more than 1,000 tax professionals.

The survey discovered a perceptible trend in how tax professionals conduct tax research. Compared to three years ago, an average of all the respondents reported using print and CD-ROM less, while Internet usage has jumped from 27 percent to 35 percent.

"The findings say to me that we’ve been reading the market correctly," said CCH marketing manager Charles Ter Bush. "This is what our customers have been saying to us for the last three years, especially mid-sized firms. "We now sell almost exclusively Internet tax research on a subscription basis."

The survey also discovered that while tax professionals enjoy the wealth of information and current content available via the Web, frustrations with the relatively new medium still crop up. Among the top complaints – generating too many hits in a search, difficulty finding older IRS rulings, and difficulty in correctly describing the topic to a search engine.

Among the top findings:

  • The use of CD-ROMs and print has declined over the past three years, while Internet usage is surging.
  • A majority (61 percent) say they expect to increase their use of the Internet for tax research over the next year.
  • An overwhelming majority (83 percent) spend a minimal amount of their week on tax research – just one to 10 hours.
  • Most tax professionals (87 percent) pay vendors for use of their tax research products. But 13 percent also make use of free sites in their research.

The survey received 1,159 responses. The majority of respondents (73 percent) hail from CPA/accounting firms, while the rest work mainly in industry, as enrolled agents, or in government. More than half of the participants work in fairly small firms. Forty-two percent of the respondents work in small office with 2-5 employees, while 15 percent work with 21-100 people.--Tracey Miller-Segarra

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