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Intuit, Maker of Turbotax, Lobbies Against Simplified Tax Filings

timothy posted about 8 months ago | from the rent-seeking-right-on-the-surface dept.

Government 423

McGruber (1417641) writes "Return-free filing might allow tens of millions of Americans to file their taxes for free and in minutes. Under proposals authored by several federal lawmakers, it would be voluntary, using information the government already receives from banks and employers and that taxpayers could adjust. The concept has been endorsed by Presidents Obama and Reagan and is already a reality in some parts of Europe. Sounds great, except to Intuit, maker of Turbotax: last year, Intuit spent more than $2.6 million on lobbying, some of it to lobby on four bills related to the issue, federal lobbying records show."

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Think of all those poor accountants! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46758447)

How will they survive if we make taxes simpler! Just like all those ditch diggers if we gave them shovels instead of spoons.

Re:Think of all those poor accountants! (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 8 months ago | (#46758683)

I think Clancy noted something like this in one of his novels? Something about how politically incorrect it would be in accountant and tax lawyer families to even try to simplify the US tax code?

Re:Think of all those poor accountants! (3, Informative)

compro01 (777531) | about 8 months ago | (#46758921)

Yes. Was one of the Ryan-as-president ones. Probably Executive Orders. I believe the Warren Buffet expy he appoints as SecTreas uses the tax code to break a table to convince Congress that the tax code needs simplification. It includes some monologuing about cutting capital gains taxes to encourage investment (something that sounds obvious, but is generally unsupported by evidence).

Re:Think of all those poor accountants! (2)

i kan reed (749298) | about 8 months ago | (#46758985)

Sure, it's unsupported by evidence, but it's been widely supported by both parties in congress. The number of actual national electors left enough to believe capital gains maybe ought to face progressive taxation(for all the reasons progressive tax brackets are usually a good idea) is in the single digits.

Re:Think of all those poor accountants! (4, Insightful)

alexander_686 (957440) | about 8 months ago | (#46759269)

What studies are you referring too? Everything I have seen has suggested lower taxes on capital leads to move investments.

I will admit that doing studies like these are hard. You have to factor the difference between high vs. low taxation states, how taxes are raised (income vs. consumption vs. investments)that the country has to be publicly committed for the long term (i.e. 10+ years), and how capital is taxed (capital gains, wealth tax, dividend income, etc.)

Not even much money (5, Informative)

jcronen (325664) | about 8 months ago | (#46758471)

It's downright embarrassing how little money it even takes to buy the government. Intuit makes a couple billion dollars a year [intuit.com] . The lobbying spend, $2.6 million, is about eight hours' worth of revenues.

Re:Not even much money (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46758613)

Billions? Hell here in NC you can buy a net neutrality law for ~1200 bucks.

Re:Not even much money (2)

jythie (914043) | about 8 months ago | (#46758615)

It is less about the amount and more about the bidding war. You can buy legislation cheap if there is not much spending in opposition.

Re:Not even much money (4, Interesting)

litehacksaur111 (2895607) | about 8 months ago | (#46758741)

Yeah, but making taxes difficult to do also creates animosity towards the IRS which directly helps the talking points of the right.

Re:Not even much money (2)

gstoddart (321705) | about 8 months ago | (#46758943)

Yeah, but making taxes difficult to do also creates animosity towards the IRS which directly helps the talking points of the right.

And god forbid they actually lose talking points by actually accomplishing something they've said they'd like to do.

Nosiree, if we don't change anything, we can keep bitching about it and we can blame the other guys. And, we can keep getting paid by the lobbyists to maintain the status quo.

Because, really, politicians are douchebags just looking to line their own pockets. Some of them may be honest, but increasingly, I doubt that fact and think we should start off with the premise they're crooked and on the take and force them to live under much more careful scrutiny.

Re:Not even much money (2)

lonOtter (3587393) | about 8 months ago | (#46759063)

and think we should start off with the premise they're crooked and on the take and force them to live under much more careful scrutiny.

You should be doing that already. I know I do. Every society that doesn't is in danger, but with all the ways the government is infringing upon our fundamental liberties and the constitution, we've obviously not been careful.

It's about power (3, Informative)

sjbe (173966) | about 8 months ago | (#46759113)

And god forbid they actually lose talking points by actually accomplishing something they've said they'd like to do.

What they want to do is stay in power. They'll change some things if they get the chance but that's a second order effect. What they really want to do is whatever will keep them in power and they will sell their soul to do it. They'll say whatever they think gives them the best chance to retain power and get re-elected but what they actually do is what shows you their real goals.

But that's what Republicans want! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46758893)

That is why they fuck over every tax payer as hard as the Beta fucks over /. users. No, that is not an exaggeration. Yes, the beta is painful as shit, but the IRS is even worse. The Republicans know tax prep fees are regressive so they push to make taxes even more complicated which hurts the poor and minorities more than you typical white people. It's just more racism from the Republicans.

PS: why can't I login with the Beta? Can /. not even get the fucking login working on the Beta? This think is a disaster. I don't login for a couple of months, and now the site has just gone to shit. You can tell the UX person is a Republican because of their twisted thinking. They're using faith rather than logic.

Re:Not even much money (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46758939)

to be fair, intuit lobbying efforts HELP THEIR CUSTOMERS. pre-completed returns done by the government will not necessarily give the lowest tax bill possible. that's the whole idea and why the government is pushing for it in the absence of a true no loopholes, flat tax that could be filled out on a 3x5 card or a 30 second web form.

Re:Not even much money (4, Insightful)

Bill Dimm (463823) | about 8 months ago | (#46759155)

To be fair, that's billions in revenue, not profit, so I wouldn't say they "make" a couple billion per year. In fact, the source you linked to shows that their operating income is negative, so after subtracting expenses from that revenue they are losing money. So, they don't have a few billion in spare cash sloshing around -- that $2.6 million is not a negligible amount of money for them. The fact that they still think it is worth spending on lobbying when they don't have a lot of spare money is perhaps an even stronger statement about how effective lobbying dollars are.

Re:Not even much money (1)

scamper_22 (1073470) | about 8 months ago | (#46759199)

Maybe I've naive, but I really don't think lobbying is just about buying votes.

That is to say, I don't think the government has a perfectly reasonably policy, like simplified tax returns.

Then Intuit comes along and says 'This is gonna hurt our profits', so lets pay politician X some money to stop this bill.

More than likely, lobbying is backed by 'real needs'
Let's face it, there are a lot of people employed as accountants and I guess nowadays, a fair amount of software developers and business. These are real concerns and they lobby to have them addressed. You can't just rip disrupt entire industries via legislation without concern for the people and businesses that are dependent on them.

The same would be done if something impacted doctors, teachers, engineers, factory workers...

Maybe I am naive and it's just as simple as dropping a few million in the hands of some politician.

Re:Not even much money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46759277)

Downright embarrassing how crappy TurboTax is, too. There's a bug that -- at least in the Mac edition -- does not apply your complete refund to estimated tax payments if you go back and make any changes to your return. https://ttlc.intuit.com/questi... [intuit.com] The latest complaint came today, and one of the earlier posters had alerted Intuit.

And? (1)

Majestix (41486) | about 8 months ago | (#46758475)

And this surprised who exactly?

Re:And? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46758937)

The surprise is the number of users today who are screaming "Da fuq? Teh Intuit iz de DEVIL!!!!" who were all of yesterday shrugging off Google's lobbying juggernaut as "just playing the game."
 
Well, it's not a surprise but it still sucks an ass how Slashdot marches in lockstep to their latest fanboy crush. For people saying how cheep it is to own a politician it seems that most Slashdotters are willing to be bought off for a lot less.

Re:And? (2)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about 8 months ago | (#46759323)

It is "just playing the game." The question is, whose side are you on? Google in many cases has to lobby just to be allowed to do anything at all. Intuit in this case is lobbying to keep the tax system unintuitive.

Lobbying aside (2)

shellster_dude (1261444) | about 8 months ago | (#46758509)

On the one hand, filing Return-free filing would be a nice option...on the other, I like that people have to take the time to notice how much money Uncle Sam is taking.

Re:Lobbying aside (5, Insightful)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | about 8 months ago | (#46758567)

On the one hand, filing Return-free filing would be a nice option...on the other, I like that people have to take the time to notice how much money Uncle Sam is taking.

Most of them only look at how much they're getting back, which is the majority of people. If you really wanted it to sink in, you'd need to end paycheck income tax withholding and actually have them write a check on April 15.

Re:Lobbying aside (5, Insightful)

jlv (5619) | about 8 months ago | (#46758641)

It amazes me that people *still* give the government interest free loans. Getting money back via your tax return is bad. I strive to owe the government the maximum amount I can each year without penalty.

Re:Lobbying aside (3, Insightful)

Talderas (1212466) | about 8 months ago | (#46758783)

I strive towards $0 but that's mostly because I'm not confident in my own ability to invest the money for growth.

Re:Lobbying aside (5, Interesting)

danbert8 (1024253) | about 8 months ago | (#46758805)

In some cases, it can pay off. I ended up getting around ~$800 back from the feds this year and through a deal on Amazon, I got 10% bonus by getting the refund back in Amazon gift credit. That's a free 80 bucks, well better than any tiny interest rate I could have gotten in a savings account. When the interest rate you can get is higher than the rate of inflation, you might have a point...

Re:Lobbying aside (2, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | about 8 months ago | (#46759017)

Better than any market investments as well. 10% is a phenomenal rate of return right now.

Someone took the Amazon scam? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46759111)

Wow, I didn't think anyone would fall for that 10% Amazon scam.

Unless you're spending money at Amazon every day, its definitely not worth it.

Re:Someone took the Amazon scam? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46759219)

You can get basically anything at Amazon. If it were nothing but toys, or even books, I'd be right with you, but you can get most of your household goods (cleaning products, paper goods) and many non-perishable foods. In fact they're my preferred vendor for most such items.

Re:Lobbying aside (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46758863)

While that sounds nice in theory but for most people it doesn't make any different. For example say you get back $2,000 from your tax return. If you intend on saving you could keep in your weekly check that money and put it in an interest barring account and come out ahead. but when your saving account is paying 0.1% interest you are making less then $2 by doing so. $2 a year for most people isn't even worth time time to figure out the proper withholding. And don't tell me about the stock market or similar where i am putting my money at risk. so until interest rates go to a sane level its just not worth it.

Re:Lobbying aside (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46758865)

That is the purely rational way. But I know that even I (accused of being a penny pincher by most) will admit that if I had extra income throughout the year through reduced witholding, I would probably waste much of it on unnecessary things.

If I get a big refund, I am more inclined to deposit that in the bank or invest it in a mutual fund.

Re:Lobbying aside (3, Interesting)

EvanED (569694) | about 8 months ago | (#46759071)

It amazes me that people *still* give the government interest free loans. Getting money back via your tax return is bad. I strive to owe the government the maximum amount I can each year without penalty.

This is what I said yesterday [slashdot.org] about this:

Here are a couple reasons why I don't worry too much about this:

1) Especially right now, that money wouldn't earn much elsewhere, especially if you put it into a safe investment. If you just keep it in a bank account, for most people it's probably barely worth it. (The average refund is about $3000 in 2011, the date I happened to see. Put in an online savings account with 0.95% interest (the highest MMA/savings on bankrate.com) and you'd make a whopping $15.48 over the course of the year. I guess that'd buy one person a decent dinner or so.)

If this was in 2007 or something when you could get a 5% account, things would be different. (That'd be $387.)

(I guess that is the federal-only figure. Would be slightly higher with state refunds, though at least for me those have always been much less.)

2) Fewer things to worry about come tax time. There are penalties for under-withholding, at least in some conditions. Overwithholding a little protects you from these.

3) I am not even sure if it's legal to decrease my withholding, for example. I've claimed the exemption that the W-4 instruction allows, and I don't even know if it is legal for me to claim more, or if there is another way to reduce withholding. I've looked into it a little bit, but it's not worth my time to look into the various IRS pubs.

Re:Lobbying aside (2)

Collective 0-0009 (1294662) | about 8 months ago | (#46759173)

I strive to owe the government the maximum amount I can each year without penalty.

They penalize you if you want to owe them more? I don't really see how that is affected by paycheck deductions? Also, you must be the first person I have met with that attitude. [/sarcasm]

Seriously though, lets say you make good money and ended up paying $15,000 in federal taxes. What interest rate could you get on that? Quick check at wellsfargo.com says you can get a whopping .01%. If you have over $25,000 in an account you can get a massive .05%. Linked checking account gets you to .1%!

So if you put that money into a savings account (and helping you out by depositing all on 1/1 of year, but not not doing compound interest) you made:

$15k * .0001 = $1.5
or
$15k * .0005 = $7.5
or
$15k * .001 = $15

So if you didn't give them a dime throughout the year, you saved a whopping $15. I meanwhile, saved $15 not buying Tylenol or needing Prozac.

Re:Lobbying aside (1)

zippthorne (748122) | about 8 months ago | (#46759249)

Meanwhile if everyone did this....

Re:Lobbying aside (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46758975)

The fed will never allow that, if you owe over a certain amount you are FINED for not making quarterly estimated payments. People that claim they pay it all at the end of the year are full of shit, you pay it monthly or quarterly or get fined heavily for not giving the gub-ment their protection payments.

Re:Lobbying aside (2)

Mullen (14656) | about 8 months ago | (#46758657)

It would not be hard to make it clear to people how much "The Man" is taking.

For example, this is what the IRS might send you:

You make: $X
Your deductions: $Y
Your Tax: $Z
Percentage Paid: %R

For the vast majority of the people in the US, the IRS knows everything it needs to know about you to do your taxes. There is no reason why a voluntary system like this would not work.

Automating taxes (2)

sjbe (173966) | about 8 months ago | (#46758753)

It would not be hard to make it clear to people how much "The Man" is taking.

You'd think so but I'm an accountant and I do our company payroll. You would be *amazed* at how seldom many people look at their paycheck, particularly if it is direct deposit. I get asked all the time how much vacation people have left even though it is printed right on our paystubs every two weeks.

That said, I'd have no problem in principle with some sort of reasonable (yeah I know...) automatic payment system. The devil is in the details and to do it you can't have too many special tax exemptions. (or the government has to know WAY more about you than you probably want them to) There is however a pretty substantial portion of the population that has very simple tax returns so why not automate it where it makes sense?

Not to make this political but I'm pretty sure the republicans would bitch about it being another government intrusion and the democrats would bitch about lost tax collector jobs or something else that misses the big picture so we'll keep doing things the same stupid way we have for the last 80 years even though it makes very little sense to anyone and costs a fortune in the process.

Re:Lobbying aside (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46758887)

No. The IRS does not know everything required to do your taxes. See also charitable contribution deductions. I could list dozens of other income, deductions, or credits the IRS is incapable of accurately calculating due to the lack of first hand knowledge. But, I'll leave that as an exercise for you to become one with the current convoluted, "loop hole" riddled maze of deductions and credits.

Now, if you propose simplifying the tax code your statement could be accurate someday.

Re:Lobbying aside (1)

Enry (630) | about 8 months ago | (#46759095)

If you're not itemizing your taxes, then you don't need to worry bout those kinds of deductions.

And there's nothing preventing you from entering your deductions during the year similar to Intuit's It's Deductible. Enter in your charitable contributions including item donation and it takes care of the rest. If the IRS wants to audit you then it's your responsibility to make sure you have supporting evidence.

Re:Lobbying aside (1)

EvanED (569694) | about 8 months ago | (#46759195)

No. The IRS does not know everything required to do your taxes. See also charitable contribution deductions. I could list dozens of other income, deductions, or credits the IRS is incapable of accurately calculating due to the lack of first hand knowledge

The statement was that was true of "For the vast majority of the people in the US", not "everyone."

"Vast" is an overstatement, but it is probably true of a majority of filers. Most deductions don't apply, because only about 1/3 of filers itemize their deductions [freeby50.com] in the first place; the remaining 2/3s then won't be able to take that charitable contribution deduction. There are still credits and stuff that are more likely to apply to people who don't itemize, but I figure it's still a substantial portion.

I briefly tried to find data on what proportion of returns are 1040EZ vs the others under the assumption that those who file the 1040EZ fall into the "the government has all the info it needs" category, but didn't see any. (Depending on how broadly you interpret things, you could go even broader than the 1040EZ -- e.g. to file for education credits you need the 1040A, but those figures are still reported on a 1098T.)

Re:Lobbying aside (1)

Hotawa Hawk-eye (976755) | about 8 months ago | (#46758945)

Why reinvent the wheel? If you opt-into this system, the IRS could autogenerate a filled-in PDF copy of the form you select (they already have the PDFs available, and they're editable) and ask "Is this correct?" If it is, you click yes. If you're due a refund, you enter your account information (to have it directly deposited) or indicate you want it mailed to you. If you owe, you enter your account information or you indicate you'll send in a check, at which point you get a form to print with all the relevant details. If there's an error, or you want to add in additional information that the IRS didn't take into account, you download the filled-in PDF and use it as a starting point.

Re:Lobbying aside (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 8 months ago | (#46759209)

For example, this is what the IRS might send you:

Why would they want to do that??

Your ignorance is useful to the people handling taxes - if you knew just how much you were sending to Washington in taxes, you might just start objecting to the whole thing...

And then where would they be?

Re:Lobbying aside (2, Insightful)

DarkOx (621550) | about 8 months ago | (#46759005)

Right, what we should do is get rid of withholding and make EVERYONE pay quarterly estimated taxes. I suspect we would very suddenly have TEA party ( or similar ) membership right around 53% of the adult population.

Re:Lobbying aside (4, Insightful)

iluvcapra (782887) | about 8 months ago | (#46759221)

No, you'd just have a bunch of big banks getting into tax financing, offering modest loans at reasonable interest rates(see fine print) to help people who didn't save for their bill.

The withholding system works because it causes the least economic distortion -- the more a tax "hurts," the more adverse an effect it has on day-to-day economic decisions, the more it's liable to cause people to make bad economic decisions, like saving huge lump sums in the bank instead of investing or consumption. A tax "hurting" might be good politics (for some people), but if it causes people to have irregular cash flow or makes it significantly harder for them to make planning decisions it will hurt economic growth.

Company lobbies against its own destruction ... (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46758535)

... more at 11!

Re:Company lobbies against its own destruction ... (1)

OneAhead (1495535) | about 8 months ago | (#46758703)

This business-as-usual apathy is what's destroying America. Yes, I know this kind of lobbying is endemic, but that only makes it more of an outrage. Almost [wikipedia.org] everything [wikipedia.org] is sold out to the highest bidder already. When will they come for your interests?

Didn't Obama campaign on this back in 2008? (1)

rsborg (111459) | about 8 months ago | (#46758543)

Simplified tax filings (ie, tax authorities tell you what they think you owe, so you don't inadvertently misfile and get penalized for it or worse, get an audit notification on what could have been sorted out before the filing date) - this is what other countries do, and I hear it's really awesome. Found it here [about.com] :

Simplify Tax Filings for Middle Class Americans: Obama will dramatically simplify tax filings so that millions of Americans will be able to do their taxes in less than five minutes. Obama will ensure that the IRS uses the information it already gets from banks and employers to give taxpayers the option of pre-filled tax forms to verify, sign and return.

I hope Intuit's lobbying doesn't screw this up. This is one Obama promise I'd like to see implemented.

Re:Didn't Obama campaign on this back in 2008? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46758651)

I'm more excited that Zombie Reagan is still supporting things

Get rid of income Tax (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46758561)

We are already taxed at every corner of our life, income tax hurts the economy. Most people that maintain the economy are middle income and low income individuals. Who spend on things that may not be necessary but do help the overall economy. They will be taxed on their purchases. Why hinder those individuals that save those tax dollars will be seen when they make purchases. If you make it a flat tax based in spending already income tax barely make 400 billion a year that is nothing in comparison to the money that was spent in stimulus. Income tax is less than what we pay in interest in debt so why not get rid of it that would help the economy more than any qe from the fed.

Re:Get rid of income Tax (2)

jythie (914043) | about 8 months ago | (#46758665)

If you want to talk overall economic health, taxation does not really impact it since all those tax dollars just go strait back into the economy anyway.

As for 'every corner', this is actually rather important. When you focus all your tax burden on some particular metric it tends to skew who pays and who does not further and further. By spreading it around it starts to better represent actual movement of money in the economy rather then specific types of transactions.

Re:Get rid of income Tax (1)

iluvcapra (782887) | about 8 months ago | (#46758899)

If you want to talk overall economic health, taxation does not really impact it since all those tax dollars just go strait back into the economy anyway.

Ehhhhhhhh.. it's not that simple. The government can allocate wealth well or badly, it can waste a significant amount of money by overpaying, by giving a supplier more than the least they would be willing to accept -- classic economic rent. Suppliers win premium prices through lobbying.

It cuts both easy though, lobbying can cause the government to waste money, or cause the government to force everyone else to waste money, just as Intuit has basically carved out an entire industry for itself as the IRS's middleman, while if the IRS were to simply pre-fill people's returns itself most people would save a little bundle every year on tax prep.

Re:Get rid of income Tax (1)

jythie (914043) | about 8 months ago | (#46759233)

Quite true, there is no guarantee that the money will flow in useful ways.

Re:Get rid of income Tax (3, Insightful)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 8 months ago | (#46758907)

If you want to talk overall economic health, taxation does not really impact it since all those tax dollars just go strait back into the economy anyway.

Please remove this falsehood from your economic system. If you take productive money and piss it away on boondoggle projects instead of useful purposes then it's a complete loss for the economy. The entire premise of capitalism is that money that gets invested into useful purposes (production equipment, invention, entropy-reducing services) multiplies the value of that money over time. All spending is not created equal (so far from it)! Hanging fiber optics on poles and getting drunk are not equally beneficial!

it tends to skew who pays and who does not

Everybody pays. The producers add their tax burden to the cost of goods. The study from Harvard econ. sets the price of goods as 22% higher (average) than they would otherwise be without the income tax. When that single mother is buying a $3 loaf of bread for her kids' school lunch, more than fifty cents of that is going straight to pay the income taxes of the people in the supply chain. That's why it's the most regressive tax possible. People can only pretend that it's progressive if they completely ignore second order effects and beyond.

Re:Get rid of income Tax (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 8 months ago | (#46759131)

The entire premise of capitalism is that money that gets invested into useful purposes

No, the entire premise of capitalism is people own stuff. Period.

There is an assumption people might invest in useful stuff and make rational decisions in their own best interests. The reality is not quite the same.

When billionaires buy multi-million dollar yachts and diamond crusted iPhones you get to see why kings periodically get their heads chopped off.

The producers add their tax burden to the cost of goods. The study from Harvard econ. sets the price of goods as 22% higher (average) than they would otherwise be without the income tax.

And, if you didn't have a government to take taxes and do the things the public needs, your society would be a shitty place to live, and would be the most brutally Darwinistic thing you can imagine. So those 22% lower costs would be offset by a society which is many many times the worse to live in.

This fictional, utopian tax free society would be not nearly as good as its proponents claim it would be.

If you model your economic system on the Ferengi Rules of Acquisition, you will not like the results.

Re:Get rid of income Tax (1)

jythie (914043) | about 8 months ago | (#46759301)

'productive' is highly subjective. A minority of our economy is actually tied to necessities and infrastructure, most of it is tied up in things that have value but are otherwise frivolous. Which gets into the high level concepts of what objectives and metrics we want to optimize for.

Ok, so then let us move that tax onto sales instead. Oh wait, the person still ends up paying 22% higher costs on items then they would be tax free except now the tax burden is skewed towards the transfer of material goods rather then services. Since the middle and upper class spend a significant amount of their income on intangibles this puts an even higher burden on the lower class yet again, only this time the tax code can not build in exceptions for people at the lower rungs thus it falls on them even more.

Pure sales based systems have been done before, they were extremely regressive and abandoned.

Beta Sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46758931)

"If you want to talk overall economic health, taxation does not really impact it since all those tax dollars just go strait back into the economy anyway."

Cool. Since taxation doesn't impact the economy, let's just raise income tax to 100% and have employers send it direct to the government.

Re:Get rid of income Tax (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46758749)

But if I suddenly start getting hundreds back a paycheck that I'm now losing, I may go buy something an stimulate the economy.

Can't have any of that.... then I may be able to afford more upper class things which will annoy some upper class person.

The tax joke is to keep you from becomming self sufficient.... Otherwise I'd just save enough for a house and basic operating costs then stop working and enjoy what I've purchased.

Taxes are there ot make sure I have to go back to work.

Even if my house is paid off, I owe thousands a year in property taxes. Even if my land is mine, I owe taxes on it. Even if I bought solar equipment to avoid needing electricity or gas, I still cannot stop working and just enjoy what I have....

Taxes make sure I cannot stock pile any amount of things as a middle-class citizen and avoid working. I must work until retirement and cannot retire early without a bunch of extra penalties on the money that is already mine.

It's a big scam. Income tax alone steals shitloads of my money. I make $4800 every two weeks before taxes. My after tax amount is $2810. If we killed income tax, I'd have *$4000 A MONTH* just sitting there.

I could surely save enough money to retire in my 30's if I had an extra 4,000 dollars a month to save. In 5 years that's $240,000 or more than the average persons retirement account.... IN FIVE YEARS.

Can you imagine how well off I'd be if I could do that for 10 years while also living on 2810 every two weeks? Taxes make sure I cannot do that.

Re:Get rid of income Tax (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46758969)

Middle class? More like nearly rich.

Re:Get rid of income Tax (1)

Ichijo (607641) | about 8 months ago | (#46759035)

income tax hurts the economy.

That depends on what the money is spent on. If the money is spent on something that brings a greater benefit than the cost, it helps the economy. Taxing yourself to buy a car doesn't automatically hurt your household economy--it depends on how much you spent on the car and how much income your car will bring.

Another reason Intuit is awful (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46758637)

These assholes have been at this for decades. During the Clinton administration, in the early years of the Web, as the government was moving to online and Gore was still talking of the "superinformation highway", there was a vision of everyone filing their taxes online, which only makes sense. I mean, collecting taxes is what the IRS does, and they had been transferring paper forms into their computers by hand. So online filing would have been a HUGE convenience thing for American citizens as well as a big labor (and therefore $) saver for taxpayers. Not to mention energy savings, paper savings, etc etc.

Enter Intuit. I remember there was a huge lobbying campaign from the tax preperation industry, and some back and forth power broking, y'know-- the power of the free market blah blah-- the result being that the IRS web stuff was scrapped, but for people who were middle/class->poor, Intuit and other tax preparer companies would put out a "free" version of their software. The only thing is, apparently they didn't have to ACTUALLY make this fact widely known to anyone.

During the Bush administration this was the status quo, although if I remember right, the income threshhold kept going down and and down, with more and more people forced to pay for the software...

And so now we're where we are. Why Americans need to prop up this shitty industry with an Intuit Tax is beyond me. Where is our "public option"?

Anyway, if you meet the income threshhold, the free software is still out there [irs.gov] and though it still has a yearly income limit, anyone can use it to get a tax extension.

One of many... (1)

xanthines-R-yummy (635710) | about 8 months ago | (#46758767)

That, and their customer support is really awful (the actual software is mediocre). It doesn't handle moving states to change jobs very well. It kept trying to slap me with an entire year's worth of taxes for one state. Customer support was non-existent (see numerous Intuit fora).

Re:Another reason Intuit is awful (1)

OneAhead (1495535) | about 8 months ago | (#46758859)

Where is our "public option"?

Oooh! He said "public option"! He's a soc...erm..witch! A witch! A witch! Burn the AC! </Monty Python-esque hysteria>

Anyway, if you meet the income threshold, the free software is still out there [irs.gov] and though it still has a yearly income limit, anyone can use it to get a tax extension.

Yeah, it redirects you to a number of free choices by the same leech^H^H^H^H^Hfine companies, including the free web version of TurboTax that is also clearly advertised on their website. And if you have kid, or anything else "out of the ordinary", too bad, that's too complicated for the free version, so cough up the dough already.

Endorsed By President Reagan? (0, Troll)

NotSanguine (1917456) | about 8 months ago | (#46758639)

That's quite a trick! Seeing as Ronald Reagan [wikipedia.org] has been dead for ten years, was a Ouija board involved?

Re:Endorsed By President Reagan? (4, Informative)

NotSanguine (1917456) | about 8 months ago | (#46758719)

That's quite a trick! Seeing as Ronald Reagan [wikipedia.org] has been dead for ten years, was a Ouija board involved?

Apparently, Ronald Reagan did endorse this idea in 1985 [utexas.edu] . I stand...errr...sit corrected. Please ignore my initial comment. That is all.

From the 1985 speech:

The number of taxpayers who need to itemize would be reduced to 1 in 4. We envision a system where more than half of us would not even have to fill out a return. We call it the return-free system, and it would be totally voluntary. If you decided to participate, you would automatically receive your refund or a letter explaining any additional tax you owe. Should you disagree with this figure, you would be free to fill out your taxes using the regular form. We believe most Americans would go from the long form or the short form to no form.

Yes, technology must be used (3, Insightful)

50000BTU_barbecue (588132) | about 8 months ago | (#46758677)

but only to outsource technical and engineering jobs. Heaven forbid if we automate away accountants and bureaucracy. THEN technology is taking jobs away!

Please automate accounting more! (1)

sjbe (173966) | about 8 months ago | (#46758879)

but only to outsource technical and engineering jobs. Heaven forbid if we automate away accountants and bureaucracy. THEN technology is taking jobs away!

I actually happen to be both an accountant and an engineer and actively practice both in my day job. I would LOVE to automate a lot of the paperwork shuffling I do as an accountant. Want to make a fortune? Come up with an EDI type system that doesn't cost an arm and leg and allows businesses to exchange invoices, delivery information, order acknowledgements, etc automatically between businesses of any size and that integrates with existing accounting systems. Start with Quickbooks and Sage. I probably spend 10-15 hours a week needlessly shuffling paperwork because email and the post office is the only standard way to exchange documents with every business. So does every other accountant in the known universe.

If you are a software engineer and want to hack back on administration and bureaucracy, I'll be happy to tell you the use cases and cost targets and whatever else I know. I'm not a programmer myself but there IS a huge opportunity for automation in accounting. Companies will trip over themselves trying to save a buck if there is a way to automate the paperwork that makes sense.

Re:Yes, technology must be used (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46759053)

Most accountants don't get paid shit today anyways... The amount of work they do for the low wages that asshole executives at companies pay them is appalling.

Oh my! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46758687)

This is not news. No surprise here.

Not Surprising (1)

Jaime2 (824950) | about 8 months ago | (#46758689)

I once read that a third of all tax credit dollars earmarked for the poor go to H&R Block. This must be where another third goes. This is no different from the record companies fighting tooth and nail to prevent their old business model from dying. It's no surprise that it's happening - it's sad that it's working.

You haven't got this yet? (4, Informative)

stkris (1843186) | about 8 months ago | (#46758735)

Here in Norway we have had this system for ten or more years. Super easy for most with just paychecks and a mortage. Highly recommended! And if you want or need you can still do it the old fashion way. Also highly recommended is checking your yearly totals agains the simplified report. Computers occasionally make a mess.

What was their argument? (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | about 8 months ago | (#46758747)

Depends... They're saying that poor people wouldn't get deductions and tax credits if they did this...

So... that's a credible point.

That said, if poor people did this then the form itself might get reformed enough to account for that without the complexity... perhaps by lowering the fucking taxes.

Re:What was their argument? (2)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about 8 months ago | (#46758891)

Depends... They're saying that poor people wouldn't get deductions and tax credits if they did this...

So... that's a credible point.

That said, if poor people did this then the form itself might get reformed enough to account for that without the complexity... perhaps by lowering the fucking taxes.

Most poor people don't have enough deductions to itemize them, so the deductions are a red herring. Tax credits could be an issue, but it doesn't sound insurmountable. In addition, poor people don't use Turbo Tax, so why is Intuit even bringing it up?

Re:What was their argument? (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 8 months ago | (#46759077)

Most middle class dont have enough deductions to itemize them.

Tax credits can be automated easily. Intuit is just being whiny babies trying to protect the whoring of the poor they do every year.

Taxes are full of scams... (4, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | about 8 months ago | (#46758781)

I can pay my taxes for free with a check mailed in, or pay $30-$90 to pay it electronically through a "clearing house" and Intuit also get's a cut.

got to Hell Intuit. Go straight to hell.

You guys are way behind (1)

TheRecklessWanderer (929556) | about 8 months ago | (#46758813)

I've hated Intuit for years. They are bottom feeders.

Reminds me of . . . (5, Insightful)

smooth wombat (796938) | about 8 months ago | (#46758833)

a story I heard on NPR not too long ago. The head of the Government Printing Office was talking about how their headcount was less than half what it was 20 years ago due to heavier use of digital forms. She mentioned how few copies of the federal budget they print every year and so on.

All of this sounds great because she's helping to keep costs down while increasing the availability of government documents to he masses. Who would think that's a bad thing?

The paper industry. They had the head of an umbrella group for the paper and forestry groups who cautioned about moving too fast to go digital, how some people still liked paper forms and so on.

So the next time you hear someone say the government doesn't create jobs, ask them why private industry is up in arms every time the government tries to cut costs by not purchasing things. In this case, the literal tons of paper that used to be used to print government documents or, as in the case of Intuit, all the work they would no longer have to do if the tax filings were simplified.

Government jobs (4, Insightful)

sjbe (173966) | about 8 months ago | (#46759037)

So the next time you hear someone say the government doesn't create jobs

The government absolutely creates jobs. Lots of them. The government is something like 20-30% of the economy and a similar portion of the jobs. This is true for most of the governments on earth and it's actually not a bad thing. Remember that government jobs include things like the military, police, fire, teachers and the like which are all necessary and useful functions. Some amount of administration is useful too. Many important and necessary private businesses make their money contracting for necessary services to governments. Governments definitely create jobs and many of them are even worth creating.

The problem is that the government doesn't generally have a good way to prune back services that are no longer required and doesn't tend to be exposed to market forces forcing it to be efficient. It also means that those who are doing well with the status quo will try to keep it, even when that doesn't make economic sense.

Re:Government jobs (3, Insightful)

smooth wombat (796938) | about 8 months ago | (#46759299)

You're missing the point. You will routinely hear from the right side of the political spectrum (and private industry) people claiming the government doesn't create jobs, it only takes from the masses.

In their next breath they whine and complain whenever the government cuts back, such as with the Printing Office or elimination of military projects (the Abrams tank comes to mind) because it will cost jobs, completely ignoring the only reason theses folks in private industry have a job is because of the government.

I only bring this up because I like to throw things back in people's faces when they make blanket statements such as this, just like all government workers are lazy or how private industry always does things better than the government.

Intuit is the Microsoft of tax software (5, Informative)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about 8 months ago | (#46758875)

This is just one more thing Intuit does to hurt taxpayers. The biggest and craziest is that where you can e-file your federal return for around $5, most states charge $20, because Intuit sued them for unfair competition when states came out with online 2D barcoded returns. Intuit wasn't upset if a taxpayer filled out a regular PDF and mailed it in, but evidently since the 2D bar coded ones saved states revenue and they encouraged them, they felt it cut into their profits and sued. Evidently the courts agreed and now, you must pay extra to e-file a state return so Intuit can get their cut, even though you aren't using their software.

If people were smart, they would use one of the alternatives to Turbo-Tax, e-file their federal return and mail in their state return. That way, Intuit doesn't get a dime of unearned money.

Re:Intuit is the Microsoft of tax software (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46759041)

I do not e-file on principle, nether federal or state returns. It costs me $2.50 to mail both of my returns and it costs much more to e-file. The government should provide tax filing software for free and it should reform tax code so one can file taxes without having PHD in accounting. It saves the government money when I e-file so why should I pay to save them money and pay taxes on top of that?
Intuit is doing what it should do - protect its business. It is the government that is corrupt and is not doing what it supposed to do - looking out for its citizens.

Re:Intuit is the Microsoft of tax software (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46759105)

Is this only for certain states where they charge? In IL, I can file my state tax for free and have done so for a couple of years now.

Re:Intuit is the Microsoft of tax software (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46759293)

If people had tons of free time and life was not short, they would use one of the alternatives to Turbo-Tax, e-file their federal return and mail in their state return. That way, Intuit doesn't get a dime of unearned money.

FTFY

Greedy bastards ... (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 8 months ago | (#46758885)

It's shit like this why I don't think corporations should have "free speech". Humans have free speech, corporations are not humans and should not have the same bloody rights.

For instance [reuters.com] :

A U.S. appeals court on Monday struck down parts of a regulation that forces public companies to disclose if their products contain "conflict minerals" from a war-torn part of Africa, saying it violates free speech rights.

Because when corporate money is equated with free speech, they can afford to have their speech heard more than anyone else.

And when they can astro-turf and get op-ed pieces written by people who think this is an assault on tax-payers, they just cloud the issue.

It should also be illegal for politicians to accept any personal or financial benefit from lobbyists ... because all it does it cause them to be sold to the highest bidder.

My bet? This would be a net benefit for tax-payers, and this is just buggy whip makers entrenching into law their business model. And all of those politicians who like to talk about free markets are full of shit .. the only free market here is how much the politicians get paid.

Whatever court decision decided that corporations are people too was garbage.

Re:Greedy bastards ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46759039)

Humans have free speech, corporations are not humans and should not have the same bloody rights.

Should groups of humans be able to exercise free speech rights? Your ideas are dangerous and harmful to a free society. If you want to figure out another way to stop this shit, then do so, but don't advocate infringing upon people's free speech.

Do Something About It (1)

mx+b (2078162) | about 8 months ago | (#46759177)

Whatever court decision decided that corporations are people too was garbage.

That would primarily be the Citizens United v FEC court decision of 2010, and further backed up by the recent McCutcheon decision of 2014, though of course other little laws and regulations contribute.

If you would like to do something about it, I would encourage you to join a group such as the WolfPAC [wolf-pac.com] and Move to Amend [movetoamend.org] . A couple state legislatures (California and Vermont, I believe) have *already* passed bills calling for a constitutional convention to propose a new constitutional amendment that puts into law that corporations do not have the rights of people, and there is similar pending legislation in many other states. Call/write your state congressmen today and get it done, and we can put this nonsense behind us. It is not impossible, it has been done in past history and is already starting to happen now; I'm sure you haven't heard it on the news, but it is happening. Get involved in making history!

Re:Greedy bastards ... (0)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 8 months ago | (#46759261)

Corporations are constituted by people, who do not give up free speech rights when they enggage in busiiness. Congress has no authority to do so because of the first amendment. Congress may not create groups of people then require them to give up free speech as a cost of entry into the group.

As for your example from this week, Congress' ability to force companies to say things is heavily oriented around preventing deception and fraud.

Jamming one's political opinion out the mouth of a corporation is similarly not allowed.

What the tax form should look like (1, Interesting)

slapout (93640) | about 8 months ago | (#46758919)

2015 Tax Form

Line 1 Enter the amount of money you grossed last year....____
Line 2 Divide the amount in line 1 by 10 and write it here... ____

Send in the amount written in line 2

Re:What the tax form should look like (1)

imikem (767509) | about 8 months ago | (#46759141)

Don't forget to make the check payable to mumble...[my-name]...mumble, and address [convenient-country-with-no-US-extradition-treaty].

Re:What the tax form should look like (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46759179)

And if you happen to be a poor person, too bad for you.

Not possible (2)

sjbe (173966) | about 8 months ago | (#46759231)

The problem with your tax form is that actually calculating the amount of income you had last year is actually pretty complicated for a pretty big portion of the population, particularly the wealthier folks. Seriously. 90% of the tax code not devoted to various tax exemptions is basically devoted to defining income. Why? Because it is not trivial or easy. There are countless corner cases and sources of income and financial instruments and other things to complicate what you income is. We could simplify the tax form quite a bit by eliminating most of the special tax exemptions but you will NEVER get a tax form as simple as the one you propose. It simply is not as easy as you make it sound.

Re:What the tax form should look like (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about 8 months ago | (#46759283)

That's better than the one I saw:

Line 1: How much did you make last year? ______
Line 2: Send it in.

Why can't the Feds outsource this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46758923)

To Intuit and others? I.e. pay these companies directly for each 'free' return submitted. They've pretty much got the process in place and it's not like these types of websites are a government (sorry) core competency.

This is a surprise? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46758989)

Posting anon just in case. I worked in the Tax Software Industry for about 12 years. Started out small, and was -fortunately- on the receiving end of a buyout before the dot-com bubble burst. Intuit bought us. I probably had my head buried in the sand for quite some time, but I found out after a while that the Tax Software Industry is incredibly cut-throat and extraordinarily competitive. I think it makes Microsoft look like a saint. The main target for our particular software are the mom-n-pop shops you see on the streets - "Get your refund in 30 minutes" and "Buy a car with your tax refund", etc. They target the gullible and poor because while they do get a quick refund, they usually get about 50% of what their actual refund would be. The beneficiaries of these are: 1) the preparer, 2) the banks giving the loan since that's actually what it is, and 3) the software company providing the service. It's an astonishingly profitable and lucrative business model. Spread this out over millions of gullible taxpayers and many millions are made in a matter of a couple months.

Never wrote my elected politician before,until now (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46759025)

This seems like a great reason to write your congress critters. This is absolutely rediculous. Taxes are the MOST stressful time of the year for ALL AMERICANS.

Who does Intuit think they are? I use Turbotax every year, but I'd certainly be all for the simplification of this abusesive process!

Rent-seeking (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46759069)

It all boils down to rent-seeking behaviour, i.e. using political connections to basically steal what isn't yours. Intuit has form here.

There are three kinds of ways of making money. Wages, profit and rent.

Earning wages and profit is moral and efficient (the latter is debatable, depending if you're a leftie or not). But rent is not moral. Rent is about not growing the economic pie, it's about depriving other people of their share of the existing pie. Profit is made by business entrepreneurs, and absent monopolistic conditions, increases efficiency across the board. Rent, as made by political entrepreneurs (e.g. lobbyists), is inefficient and immoral.

The conversation needs to move towards stigmatising and or banning rent-seeking behaviour for the good of all. If the case is made right, the Left, the Right and libertarians can get behind this.

Please Google, build the QuickBooks killer (2)

SethJohnson (112166) | about 8 months ago | (#46759079)

I've spouted it a hundred times, here's #101:

Intuit's QuickBooks package is in desperate need of competition. It's thoroughly entrenched in the accounting industry such that the interface is nonsensically-antiquated. Yet, it's become one of those industry standards that Intuit refuses to modernize it or introduce any kind of improvements for fear it will alienate the armies of accountants that have been compelled to learn it.

If google were to launch a cloud-based bookkeeping app, this would be a tremendous benefit to small business owners worldwide.

I'm shocked, shocked I tell you (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46759089)

To find out that a company is engaged in "rent seeking". This is totally novel, not done by other industries or companies.

Slimy? Sure. But when so much of the GDP is controlled by government, and government can be bought (I mean lobbied, really!), it is a good investment for many companies. Rate of return on dollars invested can be vast...

Intuit will lose a service, but gain another. (1)

dmomo (256005) | about 8 months ago | (#46759119)

Simplified filing is meant to be just that. Simple. That doesn't necessarily mean it's the best way for a tax-payer to file.

A new service from Intuit would offer, for free, to calculate, but not file your taxes. It would then compare the results to the "simplified filing" scenario. If it's in the tax-payers advantage to have Intuit file, Intuit can do so for a fee.

Intuit will lose out on lots of cases where a person's tax scenario really IS that simple... but they'll still have plenty of money to get in the middle of.

Time to Rethink the Whole Process (1)

eastjesus (3182503) | about 8 months ago | (#46759203)

Of course they don't want to make it simple, it would destroy their business. A friend who was a CFO at the time use to refer to Intuit as "The Devil" in the way they were always putting themselves into your business and then holding you hostage later. The tax industry produces nothing of value and should be replaced and the billions of dollars and millions of people put to better use. It wouldn't be hard. The government makes the money, puts it into circulation, and then at the point of greatest dispersion the huge tax industry works to get some of it back based on rules so lengthy, complex, and open to interpretation that no one person can understand them all anymore let alone apply them fairly. If you can afford the guns you can shoot your way out but for everyone else you just keep paying out. It's a formula for strife, conflict, anger, and fraud. If I ran a business that way I would have to make all my customers keep track of everything - every transaction, every special and refund all year long and then all have all their documentation on one special day for a grand reckoning. I'd probably need a bunch of armed guards that day, too. Everyone would have to keep all these records for years just in case. I would need an army of accountants and more of my resources would be tied up in that system than the whole rest of the business! Of course, that is exactly what we have with the tax system today and the industry that thrives off of it. The entire tax system and the huge industry supporting it could be replaced by a few people and a small truck (or maybe just a small computer). At the point where the money is created and goes into circulation a portion is sent to the IRS. Done. Billions saved, resources freed, and all the pain gone, just the memory of how ridiculous it used to be.

YLUO FaIL IT (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46759227)

Here in America... (1)

Pro923 (1447307) | about 8 months ago | (#46759291)

We create jobs, not eliminate them. This "simplify the tax code" nonsense just can't be done without taking this artificially complex system that so many morons have mastered and make a living with - and turning it into negative job creation! If I were a rich guy, I'd create 10 jobs - I'd have 10 guys run circles around my house every day. They'd feel like they were doing work for sure, and I'd pay them, so that would feel like work. This is the US economy. You can't just eliminate these jobs... The stuff that used to make this country great has been completely circumvented. Let's all pump money into GM instead of letting it go, and creating a vacuum by which some novel and innovative company could come along and do something spectacular (tesla?). Hey - dial up connections became useless once cable modems came along - but wait, how is AOL going to continue to make it's money? Let's confuse the shit out of all the morons that run the courts and see if we can find a meaningless way to keep that model alive (they almost did).
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