Vox is calling for a boycott of using any paid TurboTax product. So am I. If you've already filed, don't use them again. If you haven't yet filed, I urge you to use a different service, like Jackon Hewitt or TaxSlayer. Or go to an independent accountant.
The reason, to put it bluntly, is that Intuit, the company that owns TurboTax, has teamed up with Grover Norquist to ensure that paying your taxes is as painful an ordeal as possible.
Intuit has spent over 13 million dollars to lobby AGAINST efforts to make taxes less complicated. After all, if taxes were made simple, then why would you need to shell out big bucks to use their convoluted system? (along with their ever-increasing fees.)
One such effort they oppose is so common-sense that even conservatives are having a hard time making the case against it. (But it's not stopping them.) It's called a "Simple Return." Essentially, the onus would be on the IRS, not you, for filling out the tax forms.
You see, the IRS gets all of the same forms in the mail that you do. They already know what you owe, so they would be required to send you a pre-filled out tax return telling you how much you owe (or, if you overpaid, how much you will get back). With one check of the box, you could either accept it, or simply say "No Thanks" and do the taxes yourself. It's just an option.
For those of us masochists that love the art of the itemized deduction, we would continue to opt to do our own. Yet for overwhelming majority of us, the automatic return would free up millions of hours of American’s precious time. Better yet, it would not cost us between $55 to over $100 in fees for the “privilege” of doing our own damn taxes.
Several nations already do this already, and the proposal has gotten bi-partisan support. In fact, Ronald Reagan was a very strong proponent of this idea way back in 1985. Barack Obama said he also favors it.
Naturally, because this would benefit the working men and women of this nation, your conservative legislators oppose it. Like healthcare, you and I are only allowed one option: the most inefficient, painful, and expensive way possible.
At least Intuit has a vested interest in screwing us over because it cuts into their parasitic business model. However, Grover Norquist, along with his legislative minions, are just assholes. They actually argued that having the IRS give you an optional, pre-filled out 1040 is somehow tantamount to (wait for it) "Socialism." Yes. Socialism. To be fair, coming out and saying that they just want to make tax season as painful as possible so you'll hate the IRS and be more receptive to their tax-hating rants wouldn't go over as well.
Furthermore, having pre-populated returns greatly benefits low-income Americans. Many of them miss out on earned income and child tax credits every single year. Due to return errors, an estimated 20% of people eligible don't claim credits they are entitled to.
Unfortunately, poor people overpaying their taxes has never been a concern for the GOP. Their focus has always been on making sure those on the top have the ability to underpay.
Conservatives can’t even argue that it wouldn't work well here in the states, because California actually tried this a few years ago. Despite Intuit spending millions to lobby against the experiment, Californians loved it. Positive customer service response was in the 90th percentile.
So Intuit decided to get sneaky. They were caught astro-turfing in 2014, when they hired a PR and lobbying firm who, in turn, hired people to reach out to community leaders to write op-eds on how pre-filled 1040s would hurt the poor. (Some of the leaders who were targeted, such as an NAACP official and prominent rabbi, were quite surprised when they found out that the people “reaching out to them” were, in fact, paid lobbyists.)
H&R Block doesn't have its hands clean in this, either. They have also paid lobbyists to fight tax reform. Yet no one has spent more to fight this than Intuit. For them, it's a good investment. Spend several million on lobbying Congress in order to force Americans to give them over a billion dollars to do something we could have done for us for free.
It’s so evil, it's brilliant. No wonder conservatives love them.
If you have a moment, watch the video on Vox. By all means, use the free forms provided by TurboTax or H&R Block. If you can’t, and have to use the paid forms, then I urge you to use something else this tax season.