When I was 9, my family got our first computer for Christmas. I spent countless hours on that DOS machine with its dot matrix printer. Three years later, we bought our first Windows PC. I was in heaven.
I could not imagine life before Word and Excel, nor could I imagine tax preparation without software. When I get frustrated upon running into a software glitch, I have to remind myself that the software really hasn't been around that long, so many a problem still need to get fixed.
Robert Flach, The Wandering Tax Pro, discusses the benefit of preparing returns by hand. Joe Kristan and Peter Pappas share their contrasting views on the matter. My take on the conversation...
I'm passionate about tax accounting. When working on a return, I want to understand every number, the flow of the return, and the law behind it all. And I've always been that way.
I got my Master's in Tax before entering the profession, so I had a pretty solid foundation when I started. But for many accountants, their background tax return is minimal when they enter the big bad world of public accounting. It takes time for them to get familiar with how a tax return works. And in the meantime, the work still needs to get done.
As I mused the other day, I think we're better off if we delegate initial preparation to less experienced preparers, with the experienced professional reviewing the work. Tax prep software speeds up this process. Software will never replace the need for a qualified professional exercising judgment, but it can be a great tool.
I love having the speed and efficiency of software, while at the same time understanding the forms and law behind them. It's the best of both worlds.