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Intuit, Maker of Turbotax, Lobbies Against Simplified Tax Filings 423

Posted by timothy
from the rent-seeking-right-on-the-surface dept.
McGruber (1417641) writes "Return-free filing might allow tens of millions of Americans to file their taxes for free and in minutes. Under proposals authored by several federal lawmakers, it would be voluntary, using information the government already receives from banks and employers and that taxpayers could adjust. The concept has been endorsed by Presidents Obama and Reagan and is already a reality in some parts of Europe. Sounds great, except to Intuit, maker of Turbotax: last year, Intuit spent more than $2.6 million on lobbying, some of it to lobby on four bills related to the issue, federal lobbying records show."
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Intuit, Maker of Turbotax, Lobbies Against Simplified Tax Filings

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  • Not even much money (Score:5, Informative)

    by jcronen (325664) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @01:11PM (#46758471) Homepage

    It's downright embarrassing how little money it even takes to buy the government. Intuit makes a couple billion dollars a year [intuit.com]. The lobbying spend, $2.6 million, is about eight hours' worth of revenues.

  • by NotSanguine (1917456) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @01:28PM (#46758719)

    That's quite a trick! Seeing as Ronald Reagan [wikipedia.org] has been dead for ten years, was a Ouija board involved?

    Apparently, Ronald Reagan did endorse this idea in 1985 [utexas.edu]. I stand...errr...sit corrected. Please ignore my initial comment. That is all.

    From the 1985 speech:

    The number of taxpayers who need to itemize would be reduced to 1 in 4. We envision a system where more than half of us would not even have to fill out a return. We call it the return-free system, and it would be totally voluntary. If you decided to participate, you would automatically receive your refund or a letter explaining any additional tax you owe. Should you disagree with this figure, you would be free to fill out your taxes using the regular form. We believe most Americans would go from the long form or the short form to no form.

  • by stkris (1843186) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @01:30PM (#46758735)
    Here in Norway we have had this system for ten or more years. Super easy for most with just paychecks and a mortage. Highly recommended! And if you want or need you can still do it the old fashion way. Also highly recommended is checking your yearly totals agains the simplified report. Computers occasionally make a mess.
  • by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @01:42PM (#46758875)

    This is just one more thing Intuit does to hurt taxpayers. The biggest and craziest is that where you can e-file your federal return for around $5, most states charge $20, because Intuit sued them for unfair competition when states came out with online 2D barcoded returns. Intuit wasn't upset if a taxpayer filled out a regular PDF and mailed it in, but evidently since the 2D bar coded ones saved states revenue and they encouraged them, they felt it cut into their profits and sued. Evidently the courts agreed and now, you must pay extra to e-file a state return so Intuit can get their cut, even though you aren't using their software.

    If people were smart, they would use one of the alternatives to Turbo-Tax, e-file their federal return and mail in their state return. That way, Intuit doesn't get a dime of unearned money.

  • by compro01 (777531) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @01:46PM (#46758921)

    Yes. Was one of the Ryan-as-president ones. Probably Executive Orders. I believe the Warren Buffet expy he appoints as SecTreas uses the tax code to break a table to convince Congress that the tax code needs simplification. It includes some monologuing about cutting capital gains taxes to encourage investment (something that sounds obvious, but is generally unsupported by evidence).

  • It's about power (Score:4, Informative)

    by sjbe (173966) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @02:02PM (#46759113)

    And god forbid they actually lose talking points by actually accomplishing something they've said they'd like to do.

    What they want to do is stay in power. They'll change some things if they get the chance but that's a second order effect. What they really want to do is whatever will keep them in power and they will sell their soul to do it. They'll say whatever they think gives them the best chance to retain power and get re-elected but what they actually do is what shows you their real goals.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @02:09PM (#46759219)

    You can get basically anything at Amazon. If it were nothing but toys, or even books, I'd be right with you, but you can get most of your household goods (cleaning products, paper goods) and many non-perishable foods. In fact they're my preferred vendor for most such items.

  • by Obfuscant (592200) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @02:31PM (#46759473)

    Let's face it, there are a lot of people employed as accountants and I guess nowadays, a fair amount of software developers and business.

    The people who this simplified "let the government figure it out and send back what they think I deserve" plan wouldn't apply to the vast majority of people who use accountants or probably even most of those who use TurboTax. They're using an accountant because they want every penny back that they deserve. Yes, I said deserve -- the legal amount.

    There are already several free tax filing systems. TaxACT Online [taxact.com], H&R Block [hrblock.com], The IRS [irs.gov], and even TurboTAX [turbotax.com], the very company that is being slammed for allegedly standing in the way of free tax filing. If you are a die-hard, you can download [irs.gov] the forms and send them in for the price of a stamp or two (my state forms, seven pages of paper, cost $0.70 to mail.)

  • by alexander_686 (957440) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @02:48PM (#46759643)

    errrr - the press release says they lost money for the 4th quarter, which I am going to guess is their slow time of the year. IIRC their profit last year was 820m and they have made 680m so far this year. Not billions but nothing to sneeze at either.

  • by Z00L00K (682162) on Tuesday April 15, 2014 @03:24PM (#46760027) Homepage

    I can file my taxes in two minutes on the Swedish version of the IRS on the web without the need of any special software unless you count a web browser as special.

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