Sunday, April 16, 2017

TurboTax, H&R Block spend big bucks lobbying for us to keep doing our own taxes

TurboTax, H&R Block spend big bucks lobbying for us to keep doing our own taxes
"This year, what if you could do your taxes for free, and fast? 
You could, but TurboTax and H&R Block have spent big bucks lobbying to make sure that never happens.
Because if doing taxes was less annoying, you wouldn't need to pay someone to do it for you.
For years, tax prep companies have pushed back against "return-free filing" legislation that would have allowed the IRS to greatly simplify taxes for over 60 million people by offering pre-populated returns.
In 2016 alone, Intuit, the makers of TurboTax, spent $2 million on lobbying, ProPublica reports. H&R Block spent $3 million, some of it on the same efforts.
They were focused on getting the "Free File Act of 2016," which had two implications:

  • One, the government would continue and for forever offer free online tax filing to lower- and middle-income families in a public-private partnership with tax prep companies.
Sounds great, but hardly anyone has heard of this program, acknowledged Tim Hugo, executive director of the "Free File Alliance," a consortium of 13 private tax prep companies including Inuit and H&R Block. And that's because the IRS advertising budget is "$0" — so only a relatively small number of people take advantage of the program.

  • Two — and this is key — the bill would prevent the government from offering its own free alternative to taxpayers.So, by offering free software used by only a few people, the tax prep companies can maintain the current difficult system and thus the need for their products. The Free File Act did not pass but the Free File system remains, and "return-free filing" is nowhere to be seen..."

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