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Learning curve: Some companies’ returns must wait as accounting software struggles to keep up with tax changes


Unseen in the gallop toward getting taxes done by April 15 — a date accountants are less likely to forget than their own birthday — are the back-end software programs used to prepare all tax forms today.

Until there’s a problem, that is. Then they get noticed.

And the software systems used by accountants haven’t been able to implement all of the latest tax code shifts prior to the IRS starting to accept filings on Jan. 28, which has led to some delayed tax filings for accounting firm clients.

Bill McDevitt, a longtime local accountant, said that’s presenting a challenge — even if it was expected.

“I still recall the 1986 tax reform, the country’s last major tax law change; in some respects, this one is even bigger,” he said. “So, delays are more or less par for the course.”

Neither McDevitt nor the accountants he leads as director of the Tax Department at East Brunswick-based WilkinGuttenplan stand alone.

The existence of just a few go-to third-party service providers in the accounting industry means no one gets to be immune to this back-end issue. Almost all accountants rely on the same two major vendors that produce the software necessary for doing tax returns, McDevitt said.

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