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Why I'm boycotting TurboTax this year (vox.com)
48 points by clumsysmurf 9 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 23 comments

I often wonder if (many) american's hatred of taxes stems from having them shoved in their face.

In the UK you don't have to file a tax return unless you have unusual finances (e.g. are self employed), and sales tax is includes in the advertised sale price of items.

We still have to oay taxes of course, but they are much less annoying!

The IRS knows almost everything you file with them, so for millions upon millions of people it's totally pointless to file taxes. This system, that people hate, is foisted upon them to create class sympathy with people who really should be paying more taxes. They're the beautiful personalities that concocted the latest tax bill.

EDIT: I should clarify that I don't mean that the particular individuals that reinforce this particular law wrote the tax bill, I see them mostly as an amorphous class of rouges much as you might regard Annonymous.

It's worth noting that the latest tax bill will simplify taxes for a lot of people due to the fact that significantly more people will take the standard deduction instead of itemizing.

That's the game. Give most people a tiny concession, give the rich millions and millions of concessions. That way you can truthfully say that the bill is actually benefiting people in an extremely short sighted way. The reduction in tax revenue will soon be used to call for the elimination of social programs. Bait and switch.

I hear what you are saying and agree with a lot of it.

But you said that tax complexity was foisted on people in order to make them be more in favor of lower taxes for the rich. I was merely pointing out that this wasn't really the case in the most recent tax bill as complexity for many typical filers was generally reduced.

Doing taxes doesn’t bother me; seeing how much of my money the government earned the float on does. Unless withholding is perfect, I essentially give the government an interest free loan every year.

We should end automatic withholding and let everyone pay their taxes on April 15.

Unless your tax situation is unusual, it's not that hard to change your withholding to minimize the float. And for most people the magnitude of that float is tiny. People get outraged by the point a lot more than is warranted by the data.

You also propose a very poor solution. A large % of Americans are not disciplined enough with their budgeting to save such a large % of their income to write a single check every year. A lot of folks simply wouldn't have the money when it came due. What would you do then?

Ironically, most of the people I run into get outraged by the opposite - that they didn't get much money back on their "return".

Yes, and there is a certain class of people that likes to demonstrate their mental superiority by making fun of those people. The people who do this are assholes.

yeah but most people would be too stupid to save enough throughout the year to pay their taxes in april

It’s a bit simplistic to call it stupidity. Long-term planning like this is a skill that’s not strongly supported by default human psychology. We use all kinds of tricks and techniques to overcome this, and withholding is one. Similar issues arise with, say, planning for retirement or taking into account the effects of climate change, or exercise and diet. If it were something that came to us naturally, we wouldn’t even be having this discussion.

Work by people like Thaler and Sunstein is encouraging because it helps us improve our skills in a systematic manner so it can better scale.

Per the article, the reason is that they're lobbying to keep the existing tax code rather than simplify it.

I generally agree, but I think terms like "evil" and "parasite" get thrown around a bit too easily.

We're all for simpler taxes, unless it removes the deductions that we ourselves enjoy. That is probably a much larger hindrance than any lobbying, but any such nuance is ignored in these types of shock value articles.

I guess the question is does the sum of fees collected + cost of lobbying exceed the value of complexity ? In some regards the cost of complexity is a tax on the general populace to deal with the poor behavior of individuals sufficiently incentivized to discover and exploit loopholes.

That's a great starting point, and one this article makes zero effort to address. Unfortunately nuance doesn't get clicks.

There is an awesome Adam ruins everything episode on Tax returns. It seems that rent seeking is pretty much the only thing keeping the current system in place.

Adam is wrong.

We don't have return free filing because making people fill out complex forms every year makes them hate taxes more and (generally speaking) vote in favor of lower taxes. This ideological position has far more to do with our current system than a relatively small amount of lobbying.

"...don't give Intuit money"

Well, give me the $300 I need to find a preparer then. TurboTax is an incredible value. You can do your taxes in your pajamas over a couple nights and it can handle almost every complex area. The fanciest version is about $60. I've used it for ten years.

More along those lines:

Why doesn’t the IRS just send me a bill for the taxes I owe based on the info they already have? [1]

[1] https://politics.stackexchange.com/q/30223/20593

What about TaxAct?

Anecdata: this year I used TaxAct and then TurboTax, because I wasn't entirely confident in the results from TaxAct.

After fixing a data entry mistake or two, I was able to make them come out same. However, I was much happier with TurboTax's handling of employee stock options, because it walks you through how to correct the incorrect cost basis that brokerages are required to report by law. (This changed a few years ago.)

At that point I could have submitted either one, but ended up paying for TurboTax since I felt like rewarding them for better UI.

(While fixing an error, I did run into a recalculation bug in TurboTax, though; it's not clear how to report it.)

I was never able to get TurboTax to fix errors, either; I switched to olt.com and they respond to my emails right away.

I use them instead of Intuit for exactly this reason. Intuit is an evil parasite.


Only seems like you’re the one pouring on outrage here to me. You were one of the first to make a comment even.

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