But that's curious because the bribers are acting in their own interests whereas the bribees are meant to protect the general public and are failing in their duties. The misplaced focus might actually be why this continues seemingly unabated.
Two other examples of this phenomenon: College textbooks and ticket fees (TicketMaster, et al). In both cases the company acts as a lightning rod deflecting blame away from the only parties able to actually change things (college professors and performers respectively) and who are failing in their duty to protect others (students and fans).
I'm surprised this doesn't have a name, seems super common (and quite effective).
PS - No doubt someone will intentionally or unintentionally misread my post as defending this behavior rather than pointing out that politicians are really the ones that allow this to continue. I'm critical that the focus is not on the MOST guilty, not that TurboTax et al aren't guilty.
Businesses have a duty to make money, politicians have a duty to work in their constituent's best interests, only one of the two is failing in their duty but they're both acting immorally.
As an aside calling another post "dumb" is quite clearly against the site's rules. You're welcome to disagree but the civility is lacking.
capitalism instead acknowledges that people will sometimes (often?) have selfish intentions and redirects that penchant toward productive economic purposes through competitive counterbalance.
it's still not ok to be a jerk, but if you are one, the system counteracts your selfishness with that of others to reach a greater good (in the form of efficient allocation of resources). "because capitalism" doesn't excuse bad behavior; rather, it brings bad behavior out in the open so other social structures/norms can deal with it.
Your other two examples are a little fuzzier however. Professors often try to make as much material available at libraries, or online, etc as they can but don't really have substantial control over the publishing industry, and performers have /no control/ over ticketmaster. Ticketmaster contracts with venues, if you want to play in that venue, you've gotta go TM. Some bands (Pearl Jam notably) have tried to bypass this system entirely and other bands have managed to carve out exceptions to sell some block of tickets directly to fans without the fees, but unless they could go on mass strike, there's not much they can do to pressure them.
It's the arena/TM conglomerate that's the problem in that case.
Academics (professors, heads of departments, etc) are selecting the books to be used in their classes/programs. They're the king-makers. They're the gatekeeper for which of a publisher's books potentially hundreds of students are required to purchase.
This includes requiring students buy books containing one time use codes and books that re-version every couple of years driving up costs further.
The only people able to stop the publishing industry's abusive practice towards students is academic staff that refuse to do so, and have a duty to do so. The fact that nobody holds a professor responsible for assigning a $100+ book, with a one time use code, and a yearly re-versioning is absurd and why it continues to this day.
> Ticketmaster contracts with venues
And performers select the venue. If performers avoided venues with ticketmaster requirements, venues would likely be forced to offer a non-ticketmaster bundled option (particularly for very popular/famous artists).
It's called being a slimy piece of shit.
Isn't it just the principal–agent problem? Both the tax preparers and the government are agents of the people, but the government acts in its own interest (by not developing its own system) and TurboTax acts in its own interest (by misleading people into paying for something they promised to offer for free).
And "acting in their own self interests" is an explanation, but not a justification, and doesn't lessen the crime in any way.
The agreement does prevent the IRS from creating a free filing system, but requires the private companies involved to produce a free filing system for 60% of filers which is currently anyone making under $66,000 per year. Functionally this amounts to the IRS outsourcing the development and operating costs of the system to the private companies involved. In turn this means the folks paying those companies for filing, ostensibly meaning those making over $66,000 a year, are paying the tax filing costs of those making less.
I don't think this is a particularly bad deal given how awful the government is at building things like this, look at the cost of HealthCare.gov as an example. Where I take issue with the agreement is that it should have put in place requirements to promote/advertise the free option to anyone qualified for it.
With no itemized deductions and only wage income, the IRS already has everything that is needed. They should just mail/email a pre-filled form. If everything is correct, no action needed (other than paying any taxes due). If something is wrong, that bumps you into the existing "pay TurboTax" model.
The pre-filled return should also have a QR code that allows tax programs to obtain the data.
I see nothing wrong with the inherent basis of the free file program, they just need to literally forbid the companies from charging for comparable tax services to free file eligible users. Tax companies would still have a strong incentive to run it, as users using their under $66,000 are likely to continue doing so once they rise above that mark.
1. It makes no sense to me why I have to pay because my income was over some threshold. Why does the government prop up an industry and force me to pay to file my taxes. If Uncle Sam already knows what I owe, just show it to me to review and a box to sign and attach bank account details. This is a scam. Uncle Sam has an agreement with these companies not to provide a product and relies on these companies instead, who are only in it to maximize profit. It doesn’t make sense.
2. There was no traceability. At least in 2014, Turbo Tax had me enter my W2, add in some interest I’d earned and then connect to my brokerage accounts to pull in cost basis and selling prices for various equity trades.
Then they told me I owe about $85K. A magic number... great! This was all wrong. My W2 withholding was fine, and the sum of what I owed on a few trades I made that year and accrued interest was closer to $12K.
I don’t trust TurboTax. Maybe it’s sufficient if all you have is a W2, but they’re not acting on their customers behalf. They exist to maximize their own profit.
I don't agree with that reasoning. It feels that we just look at the numbers, and punch them in. There were many people that were surprised that they had to pay extra taxes this year.
That said, my sense is that most people don't know what their total yearly tax is, nor their tax rate is, only their refund/tax payment that's due in April 15. As the Republicans found out recently, a lot of people complain about their "tax increase" when they don't don't get a refund, even if their actual tax rate went down.
* Special interest groups who have won tax credits/deductions--most of these don't get reported to the IRS, so it makes it easier to kill these off since fewer people will take advantage of them.
* The anti-government crowd, who is a) afraid that the IRS could abuse this power to tax people more (if people get used to signing the dotted line, they might not notice if the IRS stops accounting correctly for some reason); b) adamant that people know just how much the government is "stealing" from them in taxes and so form a ready constituent for lower taxes; and c) generally don't like the idea of the government telling them what to do anyways, so the government just sending them a bill is the ultimate anathema.
* People who are underreporting certain classes of incomes who might be afraid that there will be a push for broader mandatory reporting to help make taxes even simpler.
Given that the political power of the second class I've mentioned is quite vast, they are sufficient to prevent the sensible implementation of the IRS-sends-you-a-bill even if TurboTax and the like were to stop lobbying the government.
I mean even in general it's hardly an uncommon strategy by shadier companies to get people to pay more: make the process so convoluted and tiresome that people will pay whatever just to make it all go away (hell, see most of the medical industry for a big current events example). It seems like even if someone did want to embark upon an anti-tax strategy it'd make way more sense to increase transparency and ease, just have a big number in an envelope of "We calculate you must pay $X this year, which is $Y (more|less) then last year". Then if it's significantly more people can just focus on that while fresh, rather then arriving to that result after hours of going through stuff with nebulous "you may be audited by the IRS you potential criminal!" hanging over it all and thus being exhausted.
So even taking Norquist's goal as a given (which I don't) the strategy seems pretty damn stupid to me at least. The primary result has been that I now hate Norquist and every single person who goes along with him, and would cheerfully support higher, easier taxes not just because easy would be nice but also to piss him off.
The Public can't afford the accountant that works for them.
I've long suspected TurboTax and H&R Block to be in bed with the G. We out not to be surprised if we end up learning Intuit/QuickBooks is secretly sharing their customers financial records, to red flag businesses who tax filings don't match up with their QuickBooks GL.
The advantage of TurboTax is that it incorporates the relationships between different lines of all the forms.
So your workflow doesn't have to involve reading and understanding all of them up front. Rather, you can enter numbers and see how they change, and deduce the rules from that.
To some people, this is a much easier way of understanding a complex system. It may be partly personal preference, but I think also that instructions everywhere, are getting worse and worse, and so it's becoming more practical to take an experimental approach in a variety of situations.