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I will say, vote with your dollars. If you don't like Intuit's lobbying, please don't feed the beast and use their services.

I might be getting old, but more and more I see “vote with your XXXXX” to be the litmus test for situations there is no decent solution left anymore.

It’s not even an advice in the end, just a reminder the customer lost the battle, and the only alternative is to leave the field with what’s left on their posession to go roam the desert.

You are completely correct, it's an admission of defeat, of helplessness.

This is beautifully written.

you'll still need to file!

Where government is concerned, you’re completely correct. However, voting with your dollars does work well for markets, e.g. grocery stores and the like.

This is something I hear a lot of (overwhelmingly) American people say, after which I am inevitably reminded of poor healthcare, food deserts and exploitative corporate practices. At this point those are all so entrenched in the "american experience", I don't understand how you can say unironically that "the market" is a fix for anything or does in any situation "work well".

It's a superpower, and it is in it's entirety an example that disproves that this is the case.

Virtually all markets lead to an equilibrium of very few businesses that try their hardest not to compete where possible

"Voting with your dollars" is a fools argument designed to impart the feeling that the reader somehow has sway over a monopoly

I don't know, do you think General Mills has the chokehold on breakfast cereal in Paraguay?

Pretty sure there's always an option. Nihilism is the worst one.

Vote with your votes. And with direct action and protest. Your dollars are small and easily ignored. Political organizing works when it's political, because it forces change rather than pitting the minnows against the shark one on one.

What are suitable alternatives? Aren't they the best in class, regardless of how shitty that class is?

I have used Credit Karma Tax since it came out (I think this year was 3 years) and it has been a great product and is free for both federal and state filings. Doesn't support some more complex scenarios, notably partial year and multi-state returns (you can still file your Federal return with it, though).

Edited to add additional details as to what isn't supported.

Have you compared to TurboTax? Is one better than the other at finding deductions?

I have not done taxes on both for the same year and compared the two. I have used TurboTax, as well as a variety of other online tax filing solutions, in the past. TurboTax might be better polished and provides better explanations, Credit Karma tax gets better every year, and I find the downsides to be a good trade off for not supporting Intuit.

I did my taxes in both last year (started in TurboTax and learned about their abuses - a coworker suggested Credit karma) and found the numbers to be identical. My taxes are relatively complex, more than most people. I'm very happy with the service for the second year in a row.

I admit that they don't have quite the community links that TurboTax does, and there are some situations they won't handle (for instance, income from 2+ states)

I have a friend who works there, and still didn't know they did tax stuff. I'll have to give it a try this weekend!

I was going to use Credit Karma this year, but their definition of "too complicated" includes "moved from one state to another" (cf. my profile).

Right, I plan to move to another state in the next year or three, so I am hoping they add that ability next year- they have added new features every year, and it seems like multi-state filing would be the next biggest need on the list. You can still file your federal taxes with them, but filing state taxes separately is a pain!

So rather than feed Intuit, you'll feed Google?

EDIT: Ignore this comment, poster threw ID-10T exception

Huh, what does Credit Karma have to do with Google?

I heard that Google owns them, and only just checked and found out they don't. Oof.

I have worked with an independent tax preparer for the last few years. In January, I walk over to a nearby restaurant where we meet, I hand over tax documents, she makes sure it's all there and asks some brief questions. A week or two later, she sends the completed state & federal forms along with the appropriate authorizations which will allow her to file on my behalf. I pay $200 for this service and consider it far more pleasant than dealing with TurboTax's incessant questioning.

Your tax preparer probably uses Intuit's tax preparation software for professions. I think it is called ProConnect.

Good point! I don't know what she uses :/

I also hired an independent tax preparer, to avoid paying Intuit. They did a good job. I was disappointed when I received their payment form and found it was hosted on Intuit. I had paid Intuit by proxy. :(

If your taxes aren't complicated (i.e. you use the standard deduction), there's a service called "Free Fillable Forms" through the IRS that allows you to fill out your tax forms online and e-file them for free. Many states have an equivalent system as well.

Last year I went to an independent preparer, which cost me around $160 and took an hour. This year I wanted to save some money so I decided to try filing myself and it was pleasantly straightforward, only taking two hours. The only tedious part was copying over the info from the W2 for both federal and state.

Free fillable forms allows more than just simple cases — it will handle all paperwork regarding your personal income tax. Highly, highly recommend using. It’s more manual (follow the 1040i instructions document), but you’ll learn a lot about how deductions work, what you can claim, and what is best for you in following years.

The only case it doesn’t handle for me is Partnership taxes — just the stuff due April 15.

I was waiting to finish my taxes for state and federal before replying to this.

Turbotax was 100% free for both with automatic imports of my forms. As long as you avoid upgrading to unnecessary services beyond their basic service, you can file for free and save PDFs of both returns when you're finished.

I use taxhawk.com and would absolutely recommend it, I think the UI is fantastic (and without a fantastic UI, I'd just continue to do taxes with paper and pen). I've been using it since 2011.

I have heard good things about freetaxusa.com as well.

Both are very reasonably priced, only $15 for state - federal is free. Since I have business income TurboTax wants over $100 to do my taxes.

Thank you, you just saved me $164.98 (turbotax self-employed) - $14.99 (taxhawk)! A lot of money given that it's for my kid's $620 income :) And honestly, the taxhawk experience was better, with less cutesy messages and fewer screens. Not to mention the annoying turbotax upsells.

Just one thing to complain - it didn't discover that I over-contributed to Roth and need to return a bit to prevent a penalty.

Yay! Glad I could help! Doing taxes in subsequent years is where it really shines, it remembers your previous year stuff so it goes much faster. It also shows you a side-by-side summary of this year vs last year which I find really helpful.

Perhaps you can let them know about the IRA thing for next year?

They're the same company; no idea why they have two brands.

So they are!

From their About Us page:

>FreeTaxUSA is an online tax preparation website owned by TaxHawk, Inc.

SEO Benefits. The latter is a keyword domain that might rank well when people search for a generic term.

Tax Act. And as far as "best in class" goes, I find Tax Act to be far less infuriating that that steaming pile of shite Intuit puts out. I would almost go so far as to say it's decent software.

As for the lobbying, I have some vague memory of jumping to Tax Act because of someone pointing out that they don't lobby. A cursory bit of searching didn't raise any red flags at the time.

I file with TaxAct as well, but it's worth noting they're a member of this industry lobbying group:


Interestingly while looking this group up I found this entire report prepared by Elizabeth Warren's staff about these types of industry groups:


The names of these lobbying groups are downright Orwellian. Coalition for Taxpayer Rights. Internet Freedom Coalition. Freedom Online Coalition. All these groups are diametrically opposed to the principles in their own names.

Would be curious if anyone could confirm that Tax Act actually doesn't lobby for this kind of crap.

Read the 1040 instructions, and follow them. This works if you don't have a complicated situation, such as business income or if you need to calculate penalties for shortfalls on quarterly filings. Have a CPA do your taxes periodically, then use last year's taxes as a guide for the current year.

Typically what I do is write a small program that asks the questions in the 1040 form, then gives me a print out of what goes in each field.

For my case, I have one source of income (employer), a couple times I've sold stock, and I have a mortgage, am single, but support my SO and her 4-year old grandkid. I've done my own taxes for the last 20 years, and only a couple times took it to a professional (once to H&R block when I sold stocks, and last year to a CPA). Both times the tax forms were exactly what I figured out on my own.

I used to have this idea of a AI chat bot that would ask common questions such as name, address, dependencies, etc... and return a filled 1040 PDF. Turned out I spent more time writing codes to handle the PDF than focusing on the chat bot functionality...

Regardless, I would pay to have such a service.

The pen. Seriously.

I used TurboTax this year, and honestly I was underwhelmed, especially when it came to the state forms. It didn’t really seem like it did much, and the California form experience were full of obvious bugs. Questions with no context. (“Enter city 2”) Questions being given out of order. PDFs being viewed through a mail slot. PDF forms where the entry blanks and the entries would scroll at different t rates, so you couldn’t read the form. It was super frustrating. The whole thing felt like a cheap unskilled body shop of a program, and made me want to just use a pen.

I'm thinking about self-filing this year. Although, I'm really running down to the wire.

It's basically as easy as filing out a W2 if you're a full-time salaried employee with no deductions, right?

It's really not that bad.

I have to file mildly complicated taxes due to getting my income from a partnership, and even that I can do in a couple hours by following the 1040 instructions, and the filling out any ancillary schedules that are required.

If you have straightforward W2 income, taking the standard deduction, and a reasonable number of retirement or investment accounts, it should take you an hour to fill out the form following the instructions. Maybe plan on a couple hours the first year, while you get used to it, but it's no so bad.

It's very easy in that situation.

It is literally 1040-EZ.

1040-EZ went away in 2018, 1040 is now the only form. :(

The new 1040 form is shorter and easier than the old 1040 ez though

We'll have to agree to disagree.

1040: easy

I swore off TurboTax after finding out about the tax lobby stuff and filed with TaxAct this year. I can't say for sure that they don't lobby but if they do they don't do so as loudly as Intuit.

If you’re in Canada simpletax dot ca is great.

I've used free fillable forms for a number of years without any issues.

This. I use this every year and it simply is an online interface of fillable forms provided by the IRS with a “Do the Math” button (actual button text). It works as intended, files for you, and is free.

Do your taxes by hand/with free fillable forms (name of the online service), you’ll learn a lot. Just follow the 1040 instructions (it goes line by line through the form) and any related forms it tells you to do.

Those lobbyists will find ways how to force you into using their services. Not necessarily by eliminating all the different competing companies, but possibly through splitting the rewards through some kind of association, commission, self-regulator etc. If somebody is lobbying against you, fight them, don't just wave your hand, or you might lose your chance to "vote with your dollar" soon

Umm... where do I start? ALL the tax prep companies lobby against free electronic filing. So if I want to vote with my wallet I have to go back to paper forms. Paper forms may be outlawed at some point in the future. Can you solve that issue?

We either need campaign finance reform or we need to accept our government is bought and paid for by big oil, coal, the NRA, the car manufacturers, etc.

sorry for the rant

The problem with voting with your dollars is that people with more dollars get more votes.

That’s how we got to this situation in the first place.

Conservatives always love when people say "vote with your dollars", because that means the people with more dollars get more votes.

Not sure why this is downvoted, but it's exactly right. When you tell someone in the bottom 50% of income earners to "vote with their dollars" you're telling them to piss into the ocean in the hopes of turning it yellow.

Particularly in the case of taxes, where the benefit one gets from having someone else prepare ones taxes is directly proportional to wealth. The people with the most ability to change this situation are the one's who are have the least skin in the game, because they're probably hiring an accountant anyway.

Why not pirate it.

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