Who doesn't think this is a good idea? Intuit, the makers of TurboTax, who stand to lose a lot of money if tax return filing was made so easy. That's why the company is behind a fake grassroots campaign, duping prominent activists to lobby against it.
Over the last year, a rabbi, a state NAACP official, a small town mayor and other community leaders wrote op-eds and letters to Congress with remarkably similar language on a remarkably obscure topic.Richard Smith, the president of the NAACP Delaware State Conference, is another of those letter writers. He was approached by a longtime acquaintance—who also happened to be a lobbyist—who convinced him to write to Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) about how the proposal could hurt low-income people. Now Smith says he's looking into the issue now that he knows why he was being pushed to write the letter, and "may have to retract so far based on my research."
Each railed against a long-standing proposal that would give taxpayers the option to use pre-filled tax returns. They warned that the program would be a conflict of interest for the IRS and would especially hurt low-income people, who wouldn't have the resources to fight inaccurate returns. Rabbi Elliot Dorff wrote in a Jewish Journal op-ed that he "shudder[s] at the impact this program will have on the most vulnerable people in American society." […]
Rabbi Dorff says he was approached by a former student, Emily Pflaster, who sent him details and asked him to write an op-ed alerting the Jewish community to the threat.
What Pflaster did not tell him is that she works for a PR and lobbying firm with connections to Intuit, the maker of best-selling tax software TurboTax.
"I wish she would have told me that," Dorff told ProPublica.
Proposals in Congress would make the program completely voluntary, and tens of millions of people who have simple returns could use it to file quickly, easily, and for free. And Intuit has spent millions lobbying against the idea in the last decade. "TurboTax products and services made up 35 percent of Intuit's $4.2 billion in total revenues" in 2012.
So, happy tax day, America. Intuit thanks its customers for their support by making sure they have to keep paying them as well as Uncle Sam.