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Counter Intuit-ive:P - Blather. Rants. Repeat.
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Counter Intuit-ive:P

Christmas pressies are not finished but are under control; cards went out today (to a few of you, even:); and the tree will go up tomorrow. But what else conveys the true meaning of the season but getting an early start on your 2014 taxes?  It's the biggest giving I do all year, after all, and there are now fewer than two weeks to make a lot of decisions involving receipts and deductions that will loom large come April 15th.

Thus, yesterday, when some office supplies ran out, I sought out the 2014 version of the same tax software I've used for close to a decade. The newly-merged two-headed monster of Office Hax-slash-Office Despot had the rack of Turbo Tax products, if somewhat buried in the back to keep the holiday cheer up. Thanks to some fusterclucking at the register, I wound up getting my copy for $15 off rather than getting to use a $15 coupon on some other stuff- but no matter: I've used the thing forever, it has tons of historical data in it about long-term transactions and assets, and early this afternoon I sat down to install it and do a quick-and-dirty preliminary run of the numbers just to be sure nothing was completely gorked.

And nothing was,.... until I got to the Business Income and Expense section. The same one I've filled in using this exact same version for my business every year since starting it in 2006, and for Eleanor's business for years before that.  Despite several chances to make it clearer earlier in the "interview" process, it instead gave me a hideous screen saying, TOO BAD SO SAD, THIS "DELUXE" VERSION DOESN'T DO THAT ANYMORE. Instead, they've moved the entire Schedule C preparation support into a super-duper "MORE THAN DELUXE" upgrade that supports multiple employee payroll records (I have none), generates 1099s (I issue none) and makes mounds and mounds of cole slaw (we buy it pre-made).

They then offered me a $40 upgrade online, atop the 60 bucks I already paid for the damn thing (before my alleged discount- we'll get to that)- but I couldn't remember the answer to my security question just to log into my Intuit account and recover my long-forgotten password, so I decided to head back to Two Headed Office Hydra and work out an exchange.

Which they were happy to do, for only $30 more rather than $40- but they would only credit the "discounted" price of the original purchase. On which, really, there was no discount; the cashier forgot to apply a $15 coupon to qualifying purchases and took it off the software.

But you know what? I'm glad they said no- because it was finally the kick in the pants I needed to get out from under the thumb of this evil software company.

----

And I mean "kick in the pants" almost literally:



That was my illustration from almost a year ago, the last time I tilted with this software windmill. The problem back then was with access to the state tax portion of the software, which was trying to upcharge me 40 bucks (there's that figure again) for a "free" component of the program. I worked it out with them at the time, but not without me being awfully pissed at being pushed around by this company that makes a US Mint worth of money off of people paying taxes to the gummint.  As I noted then, and note again now, Intuit

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.”

Their products are also notoriously incompatible with each other between desktop and online platforms, and not just Turbo Tax. Intuit also puts out the office accounting software called Quickbooks. I tried it for my own business for about a week before finding the online version to be unweildy, incomplete and invasive (the first thing it asked for was all the passwords to my online bank accounts to "import" the figures). Meanwhile, my other office requires I use a limited version of it for timekeeping for them, and while my interface works okay for me, the other components of it change constantly, moving reports and features around willy-nilly and not giving the manager-types much if any control over whether they want the changes. Worst of all was earlier this week, when that office's internet went out for a few hours; despite me being in the home office that day, I could not enter time, and neither could anybody else until online access came back.

So I'm still stuck with them for that, but I cut the Quicken cord for my own financial stuff today; I bought the H&R Block counterpart to my good ol' Deluxe edition, which still supports business data entry and does it for $64.99, only $5 more than the useless Deluxe I returned to them. I gave up on trying to get the other $15 back, because one quits when one is more-or-less ahead.

It's installed; it transferred almost all the needed information from my Turbo Tax 2013 file (and I can manually get the few missing things in with little problem); and it's a close enough interface to follow along with it, with the few differences actually seeming preferable.

So to the makers of Turbo Tax, I say, Don't let the deductions hit ya where the good Lord split ya:P


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Comments
bill_sheehan From: bill_sheehan Date: December 21st, 2014 02:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
I hate Intuit. As you note, there is no reason why the gub'mint can't do this work, or provide the tools to do it for free. Intuit is like the New Testament tax collector, mentioned along with publicans and sinners, a quisling who betrays his own and skims off the top.



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