Level 9
Level 9

It's been a long time since I looked - maybe as many as 10 years. 

- The learning curve is really, really steep. If you haven't been using Lacerte very long, or if you feel like you still have a lot to learn, this might not be such a big deal. I'm pretty sure I know where most of Lacerte's bodies are buried, and I have really good notes telling me how to step around them, or how to kick the dirt back over them when they reach out and grab me despite my best efforts.

- UltraTax doesn't do oil & gas as well as Lacerte, and I think their O&G module might be an additional-cost add-on. Part of this is familiarity, but part of it is that if you don't mind the dollar rounding, you can run a full-fledged property-by-property depletion schedule in Lacerte, and it'll do it right, even if you've got weird stuff. UltraTax had at the time I looked at it a much less robust O&G module.

- Lacerte does a reasonably good job of the state returns I do.
Oklahoma used to have a $100 kickout for interest income, which Lacerte interpreted as "any interest is eligible" and handled automatically. UltraTax required special coding on every piece of interest on every return to count it as eligible. (If you know when OK stopped doing that kickout, it was a couple years earlier that I was looking at UT.)
The answer to "I have a trust that files in CA and OK, and has both CA and OK muni interest; how do I enter that" was "you set up a separate line-item for each unique combination of payor and state, because you can only have one state-exempt amount for each line." In Lacerte, you hit Ctrl+E, enter the 20 states you file in any the interest that's exempt for each one, and move on to the next payor.

- UltraTax has no handy workaround for freebie what-ifs. My client technically has a filing requirement in 20 states, and wants to know how much the tax liability would be in each one? In Lacerte, you copy the file, change the SSN to a string of 9s, add all those states, plunk in your 20 numbers in the state source column, REP for a $0 charge, and look at the Tax Summary - it takes maybe 10 extra minutes and no cash. My recollection was that in UltraTax, you pay the REP if you want to see the form.

- My recollection is that UT lets you see all your returns in one screen, rather than having to swap between types. Which is awesome and amazing and would mean I wouldn't have a reminder on my board that says "take Client X a duplicate copy of the e-file page for their 990 when you take the rest of the stuff in October, because you forgot that they hadn't returned it when you saw them in September, you big dummy."

I will say that it was 100% worth getting a freebie copy of UltraTax (this time of year, or after 10/15 at the worst, you shouldn't have a problem getting an evaluation copy of the 2019 software at no charge) and recreating a bunch of returns. Start with a single non-dependent with one W-2; work up to the worst return you have. At some point it will become painfully obvious which the right answer is (and your right answer will probably be based on entirely different considerations than mine was!), and if it's that switching is the right choice, you'll already know how to use the new software and won't have to worry about reviewing converted files for a chunk of your clients.