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TurboTax’s 20-Year Fight to Stop Americans From Filing Their Taxes for Free

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I happen to use TurboTax, but it's truly a sign of how messed up our world is to read about how they have spent millions lobbying politicians in order to insure that filing your taxes is a painful expensive process.

For more than 20 years, Intuit has waged a sophisticated, sometimes covert war to prevent the government from doing just that [making tax filling simple and free], according to internal company and IRS documents and interviews with insiders. The company unleashed a battalion of lobbyists and hired top officials from the agency that regulates it. From the beginning, Intuit recognized that its success depended on two parallel missions: stoking innovation in Silicon Valley while stifling it in Washington. Indeed, employees ruefully joke that the company’s motto should actually be “compromise without integrity.”

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Basement alert:
"Freedom" morphing into the right to do anything you want at the expense of others ... is humanity's downfall

I have a love/hate relationship with TurboTax.  I mean, they're more convenient than a CPA, and cheaper.  But they also are the heavy in the industry, and they know it.  I thought about switching, but then realized, there are no good guys here.

@mouser: Not being au fait with US Inland Revenue processes, I had been unaware until reading your post just now that Intuit TurboTax was secure in what seems to have been an obfuscated monopoly/cartel of sorts. Funny how nobody had noticed over the last 20-odd years that Intuit seemed to have had some kind of monopoly, or something there, and thus nobody had done anything to remedy it, eh?
Under what circumstances do you suppose that could happen?   :tellme:

Regardless, the idea of automating the tax-gathering process using ubiquitous, non-proprietary and lowest-common-denominator technology (i.e., the Internet, in this case) and thus making it less complicated/easier and the cost of compliance less expensive for taxpayers is not a novel idea and should be a key objective for the State treasury - for example, as it is in New Zealand:
As I wrote under: Re: Privacy - Why can't the government do my taxes for me?
In 2008/9 I was contracted as a project manager to establish and commence a project that was going to transform the gathering of revenue/tax data by doing it online. This was for individuals and accounting agents of SMBs (Small to Medium-sized Businesses). It was to automate and dramatically improve the efficiency and speed of the processes involved, which, up until then, had been prone to massive manual processing holdups.

Fast forward 9 years. I was doing my personal online tax return the other day and was impressed with how easy it was,, as the Inland Revenue already knew an awful lot of the private details about my income. What potentially had been likely to take me hours by the old methods was now taking minutes. This was for my individual tax return. (I had read in the press that the SMB side of things was still having hiccups though.)

Then my train of thought reminded me of this silly humour post I made in 2014:
Scott Adams Blog: Message to My Government 03/06/2014
Mar 6, 2014

I never felt too violated by the news that my government can snoop on every digital communication and financial transaction I make. Maybe I should have been more bothered, but the snooping wasn't affecting my daily life, and it seemed like it might be useful for fighting terrorism, so I worried about other things instead.

This week, as I was pulling together all of my records to do taxes, I didn't get too upset that the process of taxpaying is unnecessarily frustrating and burdensome. As a citizen, I do what I need to do. I'm a team player.

I have also come to peace with the fact that my government now takes about half of my income. I figure most of it goes to good causes. I'm here to help.

I take pride in the fact that I don't let the little things get to me.

But the other day, as I was crawling my way through mountains of statements and receipts, trying to organize my records for my accountant, with several more days of this drudgery ahead, I had a disturbing thought. I must warn you in advance that this disturbing thought can only be expressed in all capital letters and it must include profanity. It goes like this.

Message to my government:


-IainB (2014-03-11, 05:57:32)

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-IainB (July 01, 2018, 01:54 AM)
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