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.
I haven't looked in a while either (since 2015), but from my email:
Offers a lot more composite nonresident returns than Lacerte
Offers more state estate tax returns and state exempt org UBIT returns than Lacerte
Integration with Thomson Reuters Creative Solutions Accounting trial balance software
MD Personal Property Tax return is an available option, for a fee.
The printed returns look like crap compared to Lacerte
No Missing Data flagging
Only one person can be in a tax return at one time (no looking while someone else is working)
Government forms instructions are not readily available from within the program.
You have to enter the ERO PIN in every tax return
A lot of informational forms are designated as "noncalculating". Meaning, for example, you must enter taxpayer name, address and ID # umpteen times on a 5471.
Won't produce 2 gift tax returns for gift splitting from 1 file.
They don't offer a fixed price for returns of all types/all states, so it would cost us more than Lacerte.
I agree with everything Phoebe said.
My quote from ultra tax is almost 5k less than lacerte.
Did you ask if that price is only for new users? You need to find out what the price will be after the introductory period (which is sometimes one year, sometimes 3 years or more).
Knowing the long-term price after the introductory period might influence your decision one way or the other.
Yes, Its a 3 year period, 1st year payment is less than $1k, 2nd and 3rd is around $7k each year with auto payment. I get unlimited individual and business plus 3 states, very hard to pass on than offer.
But don't go on price alone. Actually, I wouldn't recommend basing it on the cost savings of the introductory period at all (although cost savings after that may be a good consideration).
Remember, it will be a steep "learning curve" to learn new software. So it will take a considerable amount of your time, energy and frustration to switch.
I know but this would be my first full year with Lacerte, I have been using ProSeries Tax Library and Lacerte PPR for the complex tax returns, but my complex returns had been increasing and getting the unlimited packages makes the most sense plus just work with one software.
Yes I did, 3 times and all said to me that the best quote I can get for the same package is around $12k for the next 3 years. I would like to avoid that bloody learning curve and I had been asking not to match but I at least to get a better offer.
We tried to switch last year as price was a real issue. There are some real headaches in BOTH platforms that you will have to adopt to either system one way or another. The real issue in the end for us was the data migration - or really the lack of it. What Ultratax said would transfer over vs what really came over were miles apart. Error logs did not always spell out missed items. When we asked for assistance from our integration "expert" kept referring us back to the logs and guide published by Thomson as to what should migrate and what did not. He could never answer any questions when something that should have worked failed. He also specified things we would not be able to do but they actually would. We were told that they had grown so rapidly that they had many new people that were not up to speed with their otherwise incredible service. Unfortunately their data migration comes out VERY late in the year so by the time you know what is really going on it might be late to switch back. I would say be prepared to be redoing many things especially if you have complex returns. Thompson's software suite as whole is feeling quite dated as is Lacerte and depending how long you are going to be in the business you may want to look elsewhere including Proconnect.
You already have this topic running here:
There's no reason to ask duplicate on the same issue. Thanks.
"Level Up" is a gaming function, not a real life function.
I switched in 2014 to save money. The learning curve was steep and I thought the product inferior to Lacerte. Lacerte offered me a much better deal to come back. You might try and negotiate with Lacerte before you leave.