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Lacerte History

Level 15

Lacerte has been a household word in tax preparation for about as long as I have been doing returns (and for many years, writing my own software) but I never stopped to wonder whether a Lacerte is animal, vegetable or mineral.  While researching someone else (Rene Lacerte of Bill.com), I came across the story of Larry Lacerte, who sold the company to Intuit for a whopping $400 million, back in the last century.  This article from 2013 mentions how he batted leukemia, which was in remission.  His LinkedIn profile now says that he has retired.  I hope that's the latest. 


5 Comments 5
Level 15

And those Lacertians that are still around refer to the good old days when you might actually end up talking to Larry when he would help out manning the phones in support.  Those were the good old days for Lacerte that those users wish were still here.  I ended up coming to Intuit when they bought out TAASC and was given the choice of ProSeries or Lacerte.  Lacerte was a big price jump from TAASC so I went with ProSeries.  Making that jump in software was like going from a Yugo to an Escort.  

Slava Ukraini!
Level 11

I was using Parsons Personal Tax Edge, nifty program.  I became an Intuit customer when they bought out Parsons. I think this was for tax year 1997.

Level 15

I started in 1972, part time with Master Tax Counselors in San Jose. A milk delivery man and a high school math teacher went together to develop a service bureau for tax prep and hustle up dummies like me to to out to homes to do tax returns. We did a manual rough up of the return on a worksheet and filled out input forms that went off to the big mainframe in the somewhere to be processed.  Story was that the milkman would have his clients leave the door open and their tax "stuff" on the kitchen table. He would go in at 2 am (or something like that) gather all he needed and send the return back to them. I just looked and the name and the milkman are still listed, but I lost touch when I went big time in 1980. 

I 1980 my neighbor said "Let's buy this tax practice in town". 1,400 individual returns at about '$40 each and a few small businesses. We used a Service Bureau across the SF  Bay. Fill out forms. UPS to them. UPS Back. If wrong, repeat the process. It took a while to get a finished return. A couple of years of this frustration we bought a Burrough's mini - About the size of a standard desk- Nixie display - key board and a drawer sized processor that I think was about 64k of processing. There was a stand alone hard drive - a big bigger than a 4 drawer file cabinet - Maybe 10 Meg storage. We did input sheets for a CCH tax product. Printed on pin fed forms. Run the 1040. Run the Sch A. Run the Sch B, ......    These were 3 part carbon copy forms. Then take the pin strips off, pull out the carbon, separate into piles. Grab Mike's 1040 then go down the line to get the other necessary form, including state. Assemble into the Fed forms, State forms, Client Copy, Office Copy and repeat. Often leave a 2am and get back a 8am to open up the office. This lasted 1 HORRIBLE year and we told Burrough CCH to take this boat anchor away and we will never pay you another penny. Surprisingly it went away without nearly as much sword rattling as we expected.

Then came LACERTE! with out Kay Pro 10 luggable computer and 700 line per inch line printer. NCR paper and it printed the whole return, in order, on 3 part NCR (No Carbon Paper). Rip off the edges. Separate top sheets for government, Middle for client and we get the Bottom set. WONDERFUL. 

This was before IBM introduced Windows. Every little computer company out there had their own format for disks 6" floppies. A company wrote a program that would read each companies format so you could use their disk. If we got a Lacerte data from a Morrow computer, we used that program to get it into our Kay Pro. I got to learn CP/M. 

Bottom line, we missed the first year of Lacerte, but have been with them ever since. That wonderful input sheet for Partnerships was invented using cut and paste of all of the input sheets that were need to do Interest, Dividend, Page 2 income, 4797, etc by a Lacerte user in Petaluma, CA and Lacerte adapted his brilliant idea into the input sheets for K-1s. 

It's been a long run and most of it has been pretty good. Like every business that grows, you loose the personal contact that someone like Larry Lacerte offered. My personal use of support has been pretty limited, since I been around for so long. I know how to ask the question (always the hardest part of getting help) and I know how to cry, moan, scream to kick the can down the hall to someone that knows the answer. I have been semi retired for almost 15 years, but I still love the people and the mental challenge of doin' a good return. I volunteer here with the rest of those great volunteers to give back to a community that really wasn't there when I started. My partner and I made our best guess, but we didn't really have anyone outside the firm to bounce ideas off of. Finally we met a few in town people to have coffee with and share ideas. I have thoroughly enjoyed this run with Lacerte by my side. I have done a few seasonal gigs with offices since I sold mine. I have used ProSeries and ProSystems FX. I love Lacerte.  

Here's wishing you many Happy Returns
Level 15

When a baby chick hatches from the egg, the chick imprints on the first moving object that it sees. The chick believes the imprinted object to be its mother, even if that object is a human being. Imprinting stamps the mind of a bird with a lifelong image of itself, and that initial stamp is irreversible.

Farmers have long known about imprinting. In ancient China, farmers imprinted their newly hatched ducklings with a special stick. Whoever carried that stick could lead great flocks of ducks through the fields each day and back home again at night to their roosts.

In 1973, a scientist named Konrad Lorenz won the Nobel Prize for his ground-breaking research around imprinting. That was about the same time that many tax preparers were being imprinted with Lacerte. It was much like the debate between CCH and Prentice-Hall: The reference materials you started out using, were likely to be your favorites for the rest of your career. Likewise, Apple imprinted millions of K-12 students with their high-priced operating system, so Windows remains anathema to many of them.

I left IRS in 1978 and bought a tax practice. About the same time I bought my first Radio Shack computer. I wrote my own BASIC program for doing returns, and figured out how to print them using dot-matrix, continuous-feed paper and plastic transparencies with the forms printed on them. Some of the attachments had to be typed separately. I eventually gave in to commercial software, although paying for so many bells and whistles that I don’t need is still annoying.

Your story about shipping worksheets across the Bay, then having returns shipped back, reminded me of when 1040-ES payments from many states were mailed to a PO Box in San Francisco. The payments were actually processed by a private lockbox in Oakland, but IRS was worried that taxpayers would object to a mailing address for that city because there was no there, there. One day, the truck from San Francisco to Oakland fell off the bridge. There are still some ES payments at the bottom of the Bay.

Level 15

Notice the compassionate thing IRS did. (I know - REALLY HARD TO BELIVE!!)


Here's wishing you many Happy Returns