I presume something similar could be done here. i.e. contact the ADC for each branch and advise service members are being taken advantage of. The military could send out a memo globally suggesting how to file for free and to not use TurboTax.
Why, oh why, do they deserve to exist anymore? This is not cool. Unfortunately, I expect that they'll get either nothing or some flavor of penalty that'll only momentarily stun them.
Not to mention the fact that class-action lawsuits disproportionately help the lawyers get money out of it, either.
My wife and I normally file with turbo-tax, and usually end up owing money to the government. This year was different, and we actually got money back.
We have to pay to use turbo-tax (like 39.95 or whatever). When it was asking how we wanted to pay, there was an option where it could be taken out of our refund. We selected this; and were about to hit submit before we noticed that 39.95 figure twice.
Turns out they were going to charge us 39.95 to use their product, and (I doubt accidentally) 39.95 to pay them out of our refund. We sprinted back, chose to pay with our card (which was free) and filed.
I felt like I needed to shower after.
The problem for me is that they appear to be total scumbags.
A lot of the western world's focus on corruption in other countries comes down to the fact that good old "pay an extra $50 to get your building permit approved" can't be sucked up by large corporate rent-seekers. Trump can build whatever garbage he wants but good luck adding that extension to your 1-1/2 bedroom house.
Or, that white-collar crimes are essentially bought off or legislated out of existence, while quality-of-life and low-level drug offenses can't be bribed away.
Absolutes don't help the discussion. Corporate lobbying is indeed corruption by the rich in many, many cases. Just because there are legitimate functions for lobbying doesn't mean it's not corrupt elsewhere.
(Heck, some of them may be HN readers.)
Those terms didn't seem that unreasonable to me.
You don't think it's unreasonable that the IRS is precluded from making better services available to American citizens?
Feel free to have a different opinion on this. The program has been around since 2001. This bill just extends the same program.
The government hasn't historically had a great track record with developing web services. I see things getting better with things like the USDS, but that was only formed in 2014 and Congress keeps cutting back funding of the IRS.
The current contract expires in 2020. I can't see why its a big deal to extend it. The specific language is “to not enter the tax preparation software and e-filing marketplace.” and my understanding is that it doesn't preclude development, just launching it.
But I would love if the IRS would develop a first party solution.
So the US got a half-hearted program where 3% of Americans could file for free in exchange for promising not to have a program they weren't going to do anyway.
I really wish paying taxes in the US was done with Open Source software, like I understand Brazil has. I wish the IRS mailed you a post-card if you took the standard deduction like the UK, and many other countries do. But making noise over extending this program doesn't get any closer to things like that. I just think all the energy over this specific issue is misguided and overblown.
California does have a state run website for filing basic taxes. For as many dark patterns "the big guys" use in their free product, it's still way better than California's site.
I'd love for the IRS to offer their own solution. I just don't see it happening under this Congress and I think it would be difficult even if Democrats took control of both houses. Congress has starved the IRS funding for years and the US government hasn't been particularly good at developing web services.
I'm not sure if this is a permanent ban because I haven't read the bill, but I think it was exaggerated in the news. I don't see why it couldn't be reversed as part of a serious effort to roll something out.
The bill was HR 1957 https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/1957...
The program is called Free File https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_File
and the tax prep companies are part of the Free File Alliance https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_File_Alliance
Edit: that’s just it. I don’t believe there was a meeting where a PM sat down and said “muhaha let’s make our UI confusing to screw service members.” That’s ludicrous. What likely happened is substandard engineering practices created an overly complicated UI and then failed to correctly handle all cases due to poor coding.
Evidence that the lie is intentional is this:
To find TurboTax’s Free File landing page, service members typically have to go through the IRS website. TurboTax Military, by contrast, is promoted on the company’s home page and elsewhere. Starting through the Military landing page directs many users to paid products even when they are eligible to get the same service for no cost using the Free File edition.
An Intuit press release this year announced “TurboTax Offers Free Filing for Military E1- E5” — but refers users to TurboTax Military and does not mention the actual Free File option. (E1-E5 refers to military pay grades.)
Considering this is Intuit, it does NOT sound ludicrous.