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How the Maker of TurboTax Fought Free, Simple Tax Filing

Intuit, producer of the top-selling tax software, has opposed letting the government do your taxes for free – even though it could save time and headaches for millions of filers.

Intuit, producer of the top-selling tax software TurboTax, has opposed letting the government do your taxes for free – even though it could save time and headaches for millions of filers. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

NEW April 14, 2014: Intuit and its allies are continuing to work against proposals for what’s known as return-free filing..

***

This story was co-produced with NPR.

Imagine filing your income taxes in five minutes — and for free. You'd open up a pre-filled return, see what the government thinks you owe, make any needed changes and be done. The miserable annual IRS shuffle, gone.

It's already a reality in Denmark, Sweden and Spain. The government-prepared return would estimate your taxes using information your employer and bank already send it. Advocates say tens of millions of taxpayers could use such a system each year, saving them a collective $2 billion and 225 million hours in prep costs and time, according to one estimate.

The idea, known as "return-free filing," would be a voluntary alternative to hiring a tax preparer or using commercial tax software. The concept has been around for decades and has been endorsed by both President Ronald Reagan and a campaigning President Obama.

"This is not some pie-in-the-sky that's never been done before," said William Gale, co-director of the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. "It's doable, feasible, implementable, and at a relatively low cost."

So why hasn't it become a reality?

Well, for one thing, it doesn't help that it's been opposed for years by the company behind the most popular consumer tax software — Intuit, maker of TurboTax. Conservative tax activist Grover Norquist and an influential computer industry group also have fought return-free filing.

Intuit has spent about $11.5 million on federal lobbying in the past five years — more than Apple or Amazon. Although the lobbying spans a range of issues, Intuit's disclosures pointedly note that the company "opposes IRS government tax preparation."

The disclosures show that Intuit as recently as 2011 lobbied on two bills, both of which died, that would have allowed many taxpayers to file pre-filled returns for free. The company also lobbied on bills in 2007 and 2011 that would have barred the Treasury Department, which includes the IRS, from initiating return-free filing.

Intuit argues that allowing the IRS to act as a tax preparer could result in taxpayers paying more money. It is also a member of the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), which sponsors a "STOP IRS TAKEOVER" campaign and a website calling return-free filing a "massive expansion of the U.S. government through a big government program."

In an emailed statement, Intuit spokeswoman Julie Miller said, "Like many other companies, Intuit actively participates in the political process." Return-free programs curtail citizen participation in the tax process, she said, and also have "implications for accuracy and fairness in taxation." (Here is Intuit's full statement.)

In its latest annual report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, however, Intuit also says that free government tax preparation presents a risk to its business.

Roughly 25 million Americans used TurboTax last year, and a recent GAO analysis said the software accounted for more than half of individual returns filed electronically. TurboTax products and services made up 35 percent of Intuit's $4.2 billion in total revenues last year. Versions of TurboTax for individuals and small businesses range in price from free to $150.

(H&R Block, whose tax filing product H&R Block At Home competes with TurboTax, declined to discuss return-free filing with ProPublica. The company's disclosure forms state that it also has lobbied on at least one bill related to return-free filing.)

* * *

Proponents of return-free filing say Intuit and other critics are exaggerating the risks of government involvement. No one would be forced to accept the IRS accounting of their taxes, they say, so there's little to fear.

"It's voluntary," Austan Goolsbee, who served as the chief economist for the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board, told ProPublica. "If you don't trust the government, you don't have to do it."

Goolsbee has written in favor of the idea and published the estimate of $2 billion in saved preparation costs in a 2006 paper that also said return-free "could significantly reduce the time lag in resolving disputes and accelerate the time to receive a refund."

Other advocates point out that the IRS would be doing essentially the same work it does now. The agency would simply share its tax calculation before a taxpayer files rather than afterward when it checks a return.

"When you make an appointment for a car to get serviced, the service history is all there. Since the IRS already has all that info anyway, it's not a big challenge to put it in a format where we could see it," said Paul Caron, a tax professor at University of Cincinnati College of Law. "For a big slice of the population, that's 100 percent of what's on their tax return."

Taxpayers would have three options when they receive a pre-filled return: accept it as is; make adjustments, say to filing status or income; or reject it and file a return by other means.

"I've been shocked as a tax person and citizen that this hasn't happened by now," Caron said.

Some conservative activists have sided with Intuit.

In 2005, Norquist testified before the President's Advisory Panel on Federal Tax Reform arguing against return-free filing. The next year, Norquist and others wrote in a letter to President Bush that getting an official-looking "bill" from the IRS could be "extremely intimidating, particularly for seniors, low-income and non-English speaking citizens."

Norquist, founder of Americans for Tax Reform, declined to comment, but a spokesman pointed to a letter he and other conservatives sent this month to members of Congress. The letter says the IRS wants to "socialize all tax preparation in America" to get higher tax revenues. (Update 4/18: Norquist's spokesman, John Kartch, disputes that "Norquist declined comment."  During the course of reporting the story, we contacted Kartch to get a comment from Norquist, to which Kartch simply referred us to the letter.) 

A year after Norquist wrote Bush, a bill to limit return-free filing was introduced by a pair of unlikely allies: Reps. Eric Cantor, R-Va., the conservative House majority leader, and Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., a liberal stalwart whose district includes Silicon Valley.

Intuit's political committee and employees have contributed to both. Cantor and his leadership PAC have received $26,100 in the past five years from the company's PAC and employees. In the last two years, the Intuit PAC and employees donated $26,000 to Lofgren.

A spokeswoman said in an email that Cantor "doesn't believe the IRS should be in the business of filling out your tax returns for you," and that the bill was designed to "prevent the IRS from circumventing Congress."

Lofgren did not respond to requests for comment.

* * *

Intuit did not issue public statements on the return-free filing bills, but CCIA President Ed Black has called return-free filing "brilliantly Machiavellian." When Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Dan Coats, R-Ind., introduced a bipartisan tax reform bill in 2011 that included a return-free plan called "Easyfile," Norquist blasted it.

"The clear goal of this measure is to raise taxes in a way that leaves politicians with clean hands," he wrote in a letter to the two senators.

Political opposition hasn't been the only hurdle. Supporters say return-free filing has been overshadowed in a tax debate that has focused more on rates, deductions and deficits.

Further, return-free filing would not be available to everyone. It's best for the slice of taxpayers with straightforward returns who don't itemize or claim various credits.

Still, past studies estimate that this group might include 40 percent of filers or more; the IRS expects to process 147 million individual returns this year.

In separate reports, the CCIA and a think tank that Intuit helps sponsor argue that potential costs outweigh return-free filing's benefits. Among other things, the reports say that not many taxpayers are likely to use return-free, that new data reporting requirements could raise costs for employers, and that taxpayers could face new privacy and security risks.

The reports and Intuit also note that many taxpayers can already get free tax filing through the Free File Alliance, a consortium involving the IRS and a handful of companies. But last tax year, only about 3 million filers had used Free File, according to a Treasury tally through April 28.

In an SEC filing, Intuit said it provided about 1.2 million free federal returns for the 2011 tax season. The company and competitors typically advertise free federal filing on the Web but also pitch other paid services, such as filing certain state returns.

Government studies have split about whether a return-free system would save or cost the IRS money, according to a 2003 Treasury report. Unless the tax code was simplified, the report said, it would add work for employers and the IRS, which would have to process tax records sooner.

Some independent tax experts see potential problems with a return-free system.

Eric Toder, co-director of the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, said the IRS, "an overpressed agency that's being asked to do a lot of things," shouldn't be asked to do what software companies could easily do.

James Maule, a professor at Villanova University School of Law, said the average taxpayer probably wouldn't scrutinize a pre-filled return for accuracy or potential credits. "Some people might get this thing that says this is your tax bill and just pay it, like with property tax bills," said Maule.

* * *

So far, the only true test case for return-free filing in the U.S. has been in Intuit's home state.

In 2005, California launched a pilot program called ReadyReturn. As it fought against the program over the next five years, Intuit spent more than $3 million on overall lobbying and political campaigns in the state, according to Dennis J. Ventry Jr., a professor at UC Davis School of Law who specializes in tax policy and legal ethics.

Explaining the company's stance, Intuit spokeswoman Miller told the Los Angeles Times in 2006 that it was "a fundamental conflict of interest for the state's tax collector and enforcer to also become people's tax preparer."

The following month, an ad in The Sacramento Bee, paid for by the CCIA, cautioned "Taxpayers beware" and said ReadyReturn "could be very harmful to taxpayers." The ad pointed to a now-defunct website, taxthreat.com, opposing ReadyReturn.

Former California Republican legislator Tom Campbell recalls being surprised at the opposition.

"The government imposed the income tax burden in the first place," he told ProPublica. "So if it wants to make it easier, for heaven's sake, why not?"

In a Los Angeles Times op-ed at the time, Campbell wrote he "never saw as clear a case of lobbying power putting private interests first over public benefit."

Joseph Bankman, a Stanford Law School professor who helped design ReadyReturn, says he spent close to $30,000 of his own money to hire a lobbyist to defend the program in the legislature. Intuit made political contributions to scores of legislative candidates, Bankman said, and gave $1 million in 2006 to a group backing a ReadyReturn opponent for state controller.

ReadyReturn survived, but with essentially no marketing budget it is not widely known. Fewer than 90,000 California taxpayers used it last year – although those who do use it seem to be happy. Ninety-eight percent of users who filled out a survey said they would use it again. The state's tax agency has also praised ReadyReturns, saying they are cheaper to process than paper returns.

Bankman thinks national return-free filing could make many others happy, too. "We'd have tens of millions of taxpayers," he said, "no longer find April 15 a day of frustration and anxiety."

GET INVOLVEDHelp us chart the cost/benefits of federal income tax prep services by telling us how you are filing. Want to keep up with stories like this? Follow ProPublica on Facebook and Twitter.

We have pre-filled tax return in Norway as well. We can even submit it with a SMS. Works like a charm :-)

Of course you should collect all your tax related documents and make sure the pre-filled return is correct. Don’t be lazy!

Well I was going to buy an Intuit product for my business but I’m rethinking that purchase.

I’ve been saying for years that this dog-and-pony show is worthless and the entire IRS (and most of the accounting industry) could be replaced by a laptop.

Really.  Our employers tell the IRS how much you make, how much is taken out in taxes, and what our filing status is going to be.  Charities notify the IRS how much we donate.  Print out a bill or refund check per account.

However, just like any industry that’s critical infrastructure until they get their first pang of obsolescence (see the oil companies, American automakers, banks, print newspapers), you do need to worry a little about the people this obsoletes.  We should do it anyway, but we should do it knowing that this basically eliminates the overwhelming mass of accounting work.

In other words, I’m not surprised to see Intuit blocking it, and I can’t really blame them, since they don’t have much to fall back on.  But not steamrolling over them is sort of a travesty, all the same.

Pre-filled tax return has been in operation for 10 years in Estonia. Works like a charm.

It’s quite weird to see how much lost time and money and extra software is needed to fulfil elementary tasks like that in US.

The Federal government / IRS could and should make the taxpayer data reported by others to the taxpayer as soon as possible to assist all taxpayers in preparing their return no matter what tool they use to prepare their return.

Pre-filled tax returns also in Finland, since 2006.
Many don’t need to do anything when they receive their tax paper. That’s several hours saved each year.

Ross M Karchner

March 26, 2013, 11:22 a.m.

I’d love to understand what the barriers are to competing with Turbotax—is it an API that any vendor can use, or a bunch of backroom deals?

Tax preparers like Intuit are simply parasites on the population.  They need to find a business niche that actually provides some value to society.  I understand their fear, but society doesn’t need the services that they provide.

Simple two line form: 
How much did you make.
Send it to the IRS.

At times (like now when I read the article) I’m shaken up to wonder if the states work for the people or corporations (i.e. just a few rich people). It really makes me wanna fight the power. Not in the old-school-government-power way, though, but in the more hidious corporate-power-no-responsibilities way.

If someone made an open source web version of quickbooks intuit would be dead in 5 years.

The current form of our government is a parasite on the population. 

Turbo-Tax already offers a free version for simple tax filers.  For the vast majority of tax files however a free version or pre-filled out version simply won’t work.  The problem isn’t a problem of entering a few numbers on some online form.

The problem is with the OVERLY COMPLICATED tax code.  The tax code will not be solved with a pre-filled tax form.

I have to take the side of caution against the government on this one.  It may make things easier for some people, but when the government gets its mitts on something then those services undercut the industry and absolutely destroy competition, which is where innovation comes from.

No, I think the government should absolutely stay out of the the way.

Competition leads also to selfish and even to desparate and dangerous acts as we can see on a daily basis. The way I see it, innovation comes from educated people with curious minds.

It seems like a paradox that if innovation comes from competition then shouldn’t corporate lobbyists stop making it harder for others to success?

Yet another example of an apples-to-lug nuts comparison being made and attempting to pass it off as an apples-to-apples comparison.

First off, the tax code of many European nations are incredibly simplistic compared to ours. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. In fact, that’s a freaking WONDERFUL thing but it’s due to the complexity of the US tax code that the concept of such a simple filing system is nearly impossible in the US.

With all the deductions, loopholes and other absurdities of the US Tax code there is no way I would blindly trust the govt to dictate to me how much I make. The fact that the govt had to change income tax into a mandatory withholding is proof positive to me that we are governed by a bunch of incompetents and thieves.

So until the entire US Tax code is reduced to a 20 page book I will continue to use whatever tools are at my disposal to get as much money back from these incompetent thieves.

What if the change would convince the nation’s tax officers of the fact that the tax code is indeed horribly complicated? Wouldn’t they be inclined to do something about it? At least they’ve already got their feet between the door, so to speak.

P.s. It’s funny how the corporate leaders here in Finland complain about complicated tax code. On the other hand, smaller practitioners seem to have no problems and actually think it’s very simple. :)

I have no deductions. I would love this. As long as you have the option to ignore it and pay somebody else to do your taxes (or do them yourself) why would you oppose it - unless, like Intuit, this is how you make your living? Seriously. If you think “With all the deductions, loopholes and other absurdities of the US Tax code there is no way I would blindly trust the govt to dictate to me how much I make” (though I believe you meant “owe” rather than “make”), you wouldn’t have to use it. So why do you oppose it so strongly?

wouldn’t it be easier to just simply the tax code?
No income tax anymore.  Everyone pays 20% of sales tax.  So no tax filing at all.

Walter D. Shutter, Jr.

March 26, 2013, 3:15 p.m.

I am shocked, shocked, I tell you, to discover that Intuit, in an effort to protect, or increase, it’s business, lobbies the Government. Perhaps if government actions had less to do with the profitability, or lack thereof, of business enterprises, said enterprises would be less inclined to lobby.
That said, the “pre-filed” tax return is, at least under the present tax code, an idea whose time has not yet come.  There is no provision for reporting capital gains or losses.  There is no provision for claiming itemized deductions-John, Charities do NOT notify the IRS how much we donate.
Finally, those individuals whose income tax returns are uncomplicated, to wit, no capital gains, no dividends, no interest, no casualty losses, no sale of personal residence, no child care credit, no education credit, etc…, ALREADY may have their returns prepared for free….either by TurboTax or by the IRS itself.

I have used Turbo Tax since its beginning. I have my own business and I do my own taxesWhile I would not oppose a free government tax software, it would not work for me.

For me the real issue is in a country where we have government education with a requirement to attend until 18 and a liability to pay taxes, anyone who graduates with a “C” average should be able to understand their tax liability without referring to a dictionary or an outside professional.

If such a person cannot read the forms and understand their tax liability,this should be considered criminal extortion and the elected people who wrote such laws should be considered “criminal extortionists” and should be in prison.

It make for sad commentary that our (U.S.) Congresspersons can be bribed with so little money by corporations. The majority of citizens who would use government-prepared returns or government website to prepare free returns are low to middle income. It just proves that federal and state politicians work for corporations and not their constituents who actually elect them. More properly these politicians are “owned” by corporations. The current governor of Virginia was bribed by Intuit with only $7,500 to support disallowing the state tax department from offering free state income tax preparation on their website. I assume Intuit figured those poor people would go out and buy their product and load it on their computers? Intuit has used $207,750 to bribe Virginia politicians over the last five years! http://www.vpap.org

Sad to see yet another piece of evidence that we have the best government money can buy… and does buy.  It’s apparently not even very expensive, but the currency is $, not votes.

For the IRS to implement pre-filled tax returns for people who have “simple” returns (all income is wages or pensions and IRA withdrawals, dividends and interest, standard deduction, perhaps fully-accounted-for stock transactions) it seems like a no-brainer to do this.  Would probably even increase compliance.

Kjartan Sverrisson

March 26, 2013, 4:45 p.m.

We have the return free system in Iceland as well. It took me about 90 seconds to do the taxes for my father in law this year.

Ross,

I can answer your question. I actually built a significant part of turbotax.

There really is no barrier to entry except for complexity. If you are talking about a product that can do taxes for the fed and all states and in some cases cities - well you are working with something like 50-80 different to government offices and a boat load of tax code.

I no longer work at Intuit - but I don’t see this in such a harsh light. They do provide free tax services, and they are way more likely to be more accurate. The government does not have an incentive to find your minimum tax, so I’m not counting on them asking for all the qualifying deductions.

Of course - I thi k we should just have a flat tax and wipe the tax preparation industry out.

This had puzzled me since I moved to the US. How can the society accept the overhead of the current tax system? Having a few corporations benefit from a complex tax code is just insane. The whole business is just artificial, as the only reason it exist is the fact that the government has not yet managed to simplify the filing of taxes for individuals.

The tax prep company that last year helped me file my taxes asked me for close to $3000 to do it this year. An insane amount of money, which is only justified by this system being so complex there is no way me as an individual can understand it. Yes there are cheaper options, but the fact that my employer last year paid this amount of money for this service is just rediculus.

I’ve used tax preparers from time to time when my finances were complicated. I’ve gone in with a good but hardly deep understanding of my deductions and they’ve never saved me any additional money. In a couple cases, I was aware of things that even experienced people didn’t know. I was happy to have tax prep to back me up with complex returns, but otherwise, a waste of time. Many people who don’t need tax prep (e.g., 1040EZ) use it anyway. This sort of thing would undercut that cash cow. I’d probably do my own and then compare,  but would happily use it if it worked as advertised.

Well after the Earned income credit Tax preparerers are making a fortune charging $150 for a tax return to somebody whose income was under $10,000 and had 3 kids.

The premise of the story is false - pay a private company or get it free from the government.  Nothing is free from the government.  They just hide the cost.  The vast majority of returns can be filed from between free and $25 with tax software.  If the government were involved, the cost would certainly be more than that (but hidden) and the quality of the product less (not hidden), plus you would never be prompted to take the deductions due to you or your family.  The government should stay out of the software business and the tax preparation business.  If they want to make taxes easier, just simplify the tax code.

I don’t itemize deductions and don’t qualify for credits, so my taxes are simple and I refuse to pay for software. My income is too high for FreeFile, so I use Free Fillable Forms and submit them electronically. The pre-filled forms would make it much easier. Even more annoying is that my state doesn’t even offer an equivalent. The only free option for my state taxes is to print the forms and send them by snail mail. This must cost the state more to process than it would to accept them electronically for free, and I assume that lobbying by software companies is the only reason that they don’t.

Why not just deduct it out of our bank acct the way they do in Cyprus?

“greg” I’m with you on this one. Anytime the government (mine happens to be Canadian) gets their paws on something, they turn it to dust. I’ve lived and worked in the US & Canada for 95% of my life and would definitely endorse a simplified version of the tax code. Although, I don’t mind using an Accountant because their cost is usually balanced out once they review the situation and assist with the processing of the return. Let these companies continue to do their thing, which is to allow you to keep more of your hard earned cash and keep it away from the government which typically only wants to spend it on items/programmes you won’t use or don’t need anyway. Government and any associated agencies should be shrinking, not growing. This would truly save us money and intrinsically reduce our taxes! What a novel concept. Government is just another business, the difference being you don’t have a choice as to wether or not you’d like to shop there.

Hmm. Tax preparation software company opposes efforts to make tax preparation even easier than using its tax preparation software. In other news, the sky is blue.

Seriously, who here doesn’t think that Intuit would be opposed to making tax preparation easier than it is? Intuit is a company that makes the majority of its money off the complexity of the tax code. They are no different than H&R block, which supports efforts to have tax preparers be certified to prepare tax returns (they can afford the fees; a small business tax preparer wouldn’t be able to), and the big four that opposes tax simplification entirely.

When you enlarge government you shouldn’t be surprised that benefactors of the largesse will do anything to prevent it from being taken away. Unfortunately people who support bigger government can’t seem to realize this.

LOL, USA. You guys are throttling yourselves. Profiteering lawyers destroying medicine and corrupt politicians (mostly lawyers) destroying most everything else. God help you all.

this man has provided free printable calculating spreadsheet for years now. updating with whatever latest changes to tax code.
http://home.mchsi.com/~taxcalculator/download.htm

Six member of our family uses the same TurboTax software so we get our money’s worth. We use the “basic” which offers everything anyone could need, is cheaper, but (of course) harder to find because Intuit wants us to buy their more expensive stuff. H&R Block “tax cut” software was so terrible years ago, I never tried them again.

Through doing taxes on paper for many years, lying behind our current use of electronic software is our deeper knowledge in how our tax system works and how it continually changes.

I actually believe it’s actually brain food for us to be able to wade through the jargon and find out where we can increase savings. Years ago our HR department was giving us the wrong information about how much we could direct towards our 40lK’s. My research on the tax code fixed the issue for me and everyone else where I worked, allowing those of us nearing retirement to set aside much more. Trusting everyone in the system and having everything done for us electronically really causes brain rot if we have no handle on the process (how that ugly jargon is translated into the process of calculating the figures).

You can file an Ohio income tax return by telephone or internet without charge.

For most people, the tax system is amazingly simple. They get a W2 every year and fill out a return to get their refund. (Most don’t even have a 1099 to worry about since they don’t make enough to have any savings.)

People who bitch about the complicated tax code are usually the same people who spend a fortune lobbying to make the code complicated. What they mean is that they want even more tax subsidies for their particular business. Nothing could be less complicated.

Skip Finklemeyer

March 26, 2013, 10:55 p.m.

Think what you will of Intuit (or any of the other tax software companies) the issue comes down to who you want preparing your taxes.  this country is built on the “Advisarial” system.  If you are cool with the IRS figuring your liability, without recourse or advocates—join in!!  Hey! It’s cheaper to let the gov figure your taxes so get on it—loser!!

Simple solution.  Find an AARP-sponsored Tax-Aide site in your home town and make an appointment. See: http://www.aarp.org/money/taxes/aarp_taxaide for a site near you.
Forget about Turbo Tax.

Nothing the government does is cheaper than that which a private company or organization can provide. (talk to a postal worker and they will show you how brainwashed they are…. ex: The US Postal service is the only government office to make money- BZZZZZ Wrong! They receive 15 billion annually in taxpayer dollars). If there are several companies that provide the same service, it becomes cheaper YET. Intuit may have a case, but will receive no help from the media as to the truth of their actions due to the media being pro-statist as it is today. Shannon Stapleton being a liberal leftist who votes left wing, has an agenda of his own. Beware the tyrants, they come in flat, gloss and matte finishes and are deceivingly sinister in their broadcasting. They are tornadic and have no regrets, especially when they have power to change the course of policy!

No Walter, the Postal Service is entirely funded through postage sales.

Go back to Alex Jones and Lew Rockwell. They need your ad revenue.

‘I am compatible to dunce?’

I’ve gotten some strange insults in my time, but that one really takes the cake, ‘Walter.’

Please seek help. You need it. If even just in terms of language skills.

And a fifteen billion dollar loan is not ‘fifteen billion dollars every year.’

It’s interesting to see how people see the governent(s). Some people (such as Walter) obviously see it as a company bound to make money for the people. I couldn’t disagree more on this one.

The way I see it, governmental functions are funded by the people for the people and this way it’s possible to buy / produce (for example) services in bigger bulks - thus getting the services cheaper! Unfortunately the savings are more difficult to measure.

Another way to interpret the case is that the common money is being collected (some prefer “stolen”) in order to guarantee that all the basic services and infrastructure are taken care of everywhere - in case you ever travel or move.

Funny to see how quickly people are willing to voluntarily give control over to the Feds.  They don’t even have to steal our freedoms the lemmings are willingly giving them up.  Voters that put Obama back in the White House have are willing to lose private property rights, health care rights and now want to give the IRS the ability to calculate your taxes.  NEWS FLASH - the data the the IRS receives from your employer is only enough to complete at 1040EZ form….something that takes 10 minutes of your time and costs nothing.  This is more of a freedom grab than anything else.  Big Government statists - R’s and D’s love it.

Stephanie Palmer

March 27, 2013, 8:46 a.m.

Grover Norquist is only against more taxes because he wants every last dime of cash we have in his own pocket. I filed for free!

The tax code is complex for one simple reason: our ‘wonderful’ politicians want it that way.  Writing new industry specific regulation and tax code on the heals of a large check is standard practice in DC.  I know it makes good copy to blame a big target conservative like Nordquist and an ‘evil profit-mongering corporation’, but this is a journalism failure.  The real story here, is the same one on Wall Street.  The story is of corruption and legislative capture.

Legislative capture or legislative failure? In addition to the tax code the entire constitution is so old (and thus revered for the same reason?) that simple patching here and there won’t do anymore. Too bad it’s seems to have gone beyond repair while it was abused by lobbyists who understood the concept of legal corruption.

Thanks Intuit for looking out for me, and making it more difficult to file my taxes, and for taking my money.
I think I’ll look elsewhere next year for my electronic tax filing needs.
Almost all personal tax-related data is already sent to the IRS, so there is really no reason why they or somebody else couldn’t develop a system that would pull all that information together, plus your previous years filings and pre-determine about 90% of the tax filing, leaving the average person with just a few boxes to fill in and sign the forms. Time could be cut significantly for most people, but Intuit isn’t about helping people save time and money, they’re about taking more of your money.

I pay enough in income taxes that I refuse to pay Intuit or HR Block or anyone to file my tax return. Granted, mine is fairly straight-forward so no need for software to do mine. Having said that, it really irks me that I cannot file online with the IRS for free. And I already have a pre-filled form…it is last years return. The numbers change slightly but the same boxes are filled each and every year.
Then again, why should I have to file anything? All the information I provide is already sent to the IRS. They should just send me a confirmation, and if I agree with their entries, they send me a bill or a check. Done.
But, that would remove the opportunities for the connected to make money from our byzantine tax code so naturally it cannot be done.

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