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How to resolve "not a legal pathname" or "invalid pathname" messages in Lacerte

SOLVEDby Intuit3Updated December 21, 2023

You may see this message when opening the program, switching to a different directory, or changing tax types. This typically occurs when Lacerte is pointed to a data path or file path with a name the program can’t understand.

For example, in a UNC path:  

\\Hostserver\Lacerte\20 Tax\Idata  

  • This will generate this error message because there is a space between 20 and Tax.


  • This will not generate this error message because it conforms to the rules.

To solve for this, ensure that you are not using any of following common illegal characters/symbols:

# pound% percent& ampersand* asterisk
{ left curly bracket} right curly bracket< left angle bracket> right angle bracket
? question mark$ dollar sign! exclamation point: colon
' single quote" double quote` backtick@ at sign
+ plus sign= equal sign/ forward slash\ back slash*

*A double backslash can only be used at the beginning of the pathname if it is referencing a UNC path. Otherwise, a backslash should only be used to designate a subdirectory.

Other rules and best practices:

  • Make sure there are no spaces in the pathname.
  • Don’t start or end your filename with a space, period, hyphen, or underscore.
  • Avoid using underscores; use a hyphen instead.
  • Most operating systems are case sensitive; verify the path name you entered in Lacerte follows proper casing.
  • Keep your filenames to a reasonable length and be sure they are under 31 characters.

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