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And now, .... - Blather. Rants. Repeat.
A Møøse once bit my sister ...
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And now, ....



This will not be THE year-end post, but will just look at this last day itself. Oh frabjous day, callooh, callay!  I've spent the entire morning closing the books from a business standpoint, making sure the deposits are all accounted, the bills paid that need to be, and things sufficiently sorted to do 2013 taxes for both business and personal lives.

In this country, at least, it's a task right up there with root canals and sewage explosions.  For over a decade, I've used a computer-based program which figures the deductions and credits, prints the forms (eight different substantive ones making up last year's federal return alone) and electronically transmits the shebangs to the IRS and Albany.  Although they've offered a free "online" version for years, the two are not compatible, and I have years of legacy information stuck in the program that make it hard to switch.

Last week, I went shopping, and found that, no, Moore's Law does not apply on the Turbo Tax Highway, and the CD was actually more than I paid last year. Hmmfh. I did some online checking and scored a cheaper download through Amazon.  Over the past week, I've dribbed and drabbed info into it, but today, with the office mostly closed, I sat down to run the state numbers- since there's a tax benefit on the federal return if you pay state income taxes today.

The state download was locked- and a $39.99 offer to buy it appeared.  HUH?!?  Again, in every respect, this download worked exactly the same as the ones from the previous years' jewelboxes- and those always gave you a state return of your choice included in the price.  So I checked the help section- and I was  not the first to do so:



Note the date on that question- 11 months ago. This was a bug in the 2012 version, and they still haven't fixed it? Of course, I can think of about 39.99 reasons why they wouldn't want to- but, once confronted, I got a-chattin' with my new pal Joey, who verified the problem, set me up with an online account, and promptly sent me the state download.... for 2012.  And then, on my noticing, also the one for 2013.  Which is now open, and the numbers crunched, but you have to wonder how many people just took them at their word, clicked the payment link and doubled their cost?

----

If you think I'm cynical about this, I have good reason to be. For the owner of this leading tax software has, for years, been at the forefront of a lobbying effort to stop the IRS and state governments from simplifying the tax filing process to a point done in many western countries that would consign them to the rubble of typewriter and cassette recorder manufacturers:

In the most technologically advanced countries, filing a tax return is free, easy and fast: Instead of taxpayers painstakingly calculating figures themselves, the government provides estimates of what they owe based on the very bank records and wages it already collects. Intuit, maker of the popular tax preparation software, TurboTax, has funnelled millions to oppose every effort to make tax day less painful.

Intuit has spent $11.5 million lobbying the federal government — more than Apple or Amazon. Former California Senator, Tom Campbell, who felt Intuit’s power during his proposal for an easy-file system in California, wrote that he “never saw as clear a case of lobbying power putting private interests first over public benefit.”

Intuit’s long and expensive campaigns over the years have argued that IRS-based service is a “massive expansion of the U.S. government through a big government program.”

Funny how corporate America likes complex, over-regulated systems when they, and not you, have the smarts and the suits to benefit the most from them.  Even in scenarios where the "fast file" option is just that- optional- they have made it out to be a money grab because you, stupid taxpayer, won't know enough to get all the deductions you're seeking.

Even funnier is how easy their corporate software makes it to miss those deductions yourself even with their help. Once the state return finally opened, it gave me a shockingly high number owed- even though I'd done all the data entry on the federal return for Emily's 2013 college costs.  It took a good half-dozen additional clicks before it said, oh, okay, you paid them in actual money rather than stones and trinkets, and allowed the $10,000 deduction from taxable income that it gave us each of the past three years.

All's well that ended well, though- enough that I'll spare you the rant directed at the State Tax people who made it nearly impossible for me to pay my estimated 2013 balance due on today's date.... except to say that the problem was only fixed when, and I roughly quote, I was instructed not to use Firefox or Chrome for the transaction  but rather Internet Explorer, since "it's the best."

And best of all, I got a year-end special of 20 percent off the $39.99 price for downloading it!

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Comments
warriorsavant From: warriorsavant Date: December 31st, 2013 08:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
For what used to be the least bureaucratic country, we've become one of the worst among developed nations. Some ex-pat Americans are dropping their citizenship just so they don't have to deal with the arcane IRS nonsense. Having bank accounts outside the US (what with my living here), I have to file a form called a FUBAR on each and every one. (Yes really - spelled FBAR, but pronounced FUBAR; someone had a sense of humor and slipped it past his boss.) This, of course, is to prevent, terrorism, money-laundering, and unemployment among CPAs.
symian From: symian Date: January 3rd, 2014 07:46 am (UTC) (Link)
I long ago disabled the auto renewal. I found that I could walk into Staples and buy it much cheaper or order it on-line every year for far less.
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