TurboTax Maker Fights to Keep It Harder to Do Taxes
Intuit has been lobbying against 'return-free filing': ProPublica
By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff
Posted Mar 26, 2013 12:22 PM CDT
This March 5, 2008 file photo shows a Costco shopper purchasing TurboTax at Costco in Mountain View, Calif.   (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma,File)

(Newser) – If only it were quicker, easier, and cheaper to prepare and file your taxes. Oh, wait—it could be. Denmark, Sweden, and Spain use a system in which the government pre-fills your tax returns using info from your employer and bank. You tweak whatever is incorrect and you're done, for free and within minutes. The US could do the same, and one estimate says "return-free filing" would save taxpayers $2 billion a year and put 225 million hours back into Americans' hands. But as ProPublica reports in a look at our national tax headache, one big roadblock takes the form of TurboTax maker Intuit.

Intuit has spent $11.5 million fighting that filing approach over the past five years, arguing that such a system could cause people to pay more than they actually owe and "curtail citizen participation in the tax process." Tax activist Grover Norquist and other groups are also against the idea, and make similar arguments. (Norquist was one of a number of conservatives who signed a letter sent to Congress this month arguing that the IRS wants to "socialize all tax preparation in America" to boost its revenues.) Still, ProPublica points out that the system would be voluntary—taxpayers would be free to continue using tax software or a professional tax preparer if they so desired. "This is not some pie-in-the-sky [idea] that's never been done before," says the co-director of a tax policy center. "It's doable, feasible, implementable, and at a relatively low cost." Click for the full report.

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Mar 26, 2013 7:30 PM CDT
The so called free Turbo Tax turned into a $75 fee and it was done with smoke and mirrors. I had first chosen the free federal file and then did the state (which I know is $34) But when it got to the invoice section, they said I owed them $75. I figured that at some juncture they asked me "Are you really sure you want our crappy free service?" They got me, a guy who's been in this game since punch cards. So, I retaliated by taking my business to Tax Act. For $18, and the exact same #'s, and the same rebate, I transmitted both state and federal returns. But even they tried a trick on me that almost worked. It was very sneaky. They asked if I wanted to deduct the $18 from the federal return. I agreed and then I was taken to the Republic Bank website that was full of smoke, mirrors, and deception. In the end, they wanted another $18 in addition the the $18 for the filing service. By making it the same, it gave the impression you were only paying once. Even in the final invoice, they worded the $18 like it was a single item. But what revealed the deception was them wanting me to give Republic Bank permission to seize my rebate, deposit into their own account, and take out both the $18 filing fee and an additional $18 "transfer fee." So I told it that Republic Bank could NOT seize my rebate. So it turned out ok once I put the single $18 on my master card. So I went back to Turbo crap and logged in. Seems like they locked the account until I pay them $75. I have about 10 years of returns done with them. But I have electronic and paper copies of my own. So Turbo Tax, you can just kiss my a$$.
Mar 26, 2013 7:22 PM CDT
TURBO TAX is using tricks, smoke screens, and diversions to get you to pay $34.99 for the "FREE" tax preparation. I thought I was rather computer savvy considering I've been in this game since punch cards. But they fooled me today. They got me, hook, line, and sinker and I felt bad about it. I was sincerely shamed. I got to the end of my tax return with them and there it was, the total was $75 total for state and federal. Wow, with all the "NO" buttons I pressed I figure the one that got me was, "Do you want to continue with the FREE version?" So, in retaliation, I went to Tax Act and for $18 total, federal and state, they electronically transmitted my returns for me. And you know what, the refunds were exactly the same. But, even they were able to trick me into almost paying another $18 for a bank transfer fee. You see, I agreed to let them deduct the $18 out of my return. But to do that, they needed me to fill out these extra forms so that Republic Bank could have the IRS first transfer the rebate to them, and then the bank transferred it to me minus the $18 fee. I didn't realize it until I got to the final invoice, that had not yet been approved my me. So, I denied Republic Bank's authority to seize my return and I just paid the $18 filing fee by credit card. I have electronic versions o the returns I had flied with TURBO TAX but I wanted to go back and see if I could still access them. NO, they locked the account since I didn't let them charge me $75 for a so-called free return. So, I'm done with them, they are a bankrupt company to me. Going forward, I'm with Tax Act.
Mar 26, 2013 6:29 PM CDT
It's the American Way; whatever is best for ME and not anyone else. It's not like the new system would be mandatory. Hell even with free returns people still shell out good money to have someone else do it for them.I do my own taxes, for free every year. If it works in other countries it can work here. As for what Grover wants.....I can't be bothered.