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turbotax not free taxes lobby

NOT Free? Why TurboTax Lobbies Against FREE & Simple Tax Returns

logo turbotax freeTurboTax doesn’t like “free” tax – For most Americans, the dread of tax season begins long before the calendar turns to April. When the first tax form comes in, Americans face a dreaded question of whether they want to put in all of the information themselves or pay a professional to do it for them.

Neither is a great option, as both of them require a time commitment and the compilation of all necessary forms and information to make sure that the return is as accurate as possible.

But what if there was a third option: having the return already prepared for you by the IRS and simply having to give it a once-over to confirm its accuracy?

Sound too good to be true? It is, for one reason: the tax preparation companies like TurboTax don’t want you to have that free option available to you.

Turbotax spends millions to lobby against free tax filing

turbotax lobbyist

Despite the fact that several European nations including Spain, Denmark, and Sweden already offer their citizens a return prepared by their government, TurboTax’s parent company Intuit and other tax preparation firms have been staunch opponents of bringing that same freedom to the United States. The reason is pretty simple: Intuit doesn’t want to lose the business of TurboTax customers who choose their software program to file their return.

Currently, TurboTax ranges from “free” for the most basic use to $135 for its top-of-the-line software. Most Americans don’t need the most expensive package, which is for small business owners, but neither do they qualify for the most basic level of tax preparation either, resulting in some kind of cost for them to figure out their taxes.

Having tax prep be “not free” is very lucrative for TurboTax

free signWhatever refund those Americans get isn’t the refund they receive, because before they can claim it, Intuit helps itself to a portion of the money as its fees for the service. That portion comes out to be just under $1.5 billion per year, an amount that Intuit doesn’t want to give up without a fight, as evidenced by the $13 million that the company has spent to lobby against bills that would give Americans the option of having the IRS compile their returns for them.

It’s no surprise that Intuit has fought so aggressively against such a program. Part of TurboTax’s appeal is that it’s supposedly the easiest and least expensive way to file taxes, as compared to meeting with an accountant and paying for their services. If an easier way exists, TurboTax’s appeal drops quite a bit, and in practice, the idea of having the IRS file returns for Americans has proven fairly popular.

The added irony is that the “free” version of TurboTax’s software can still cost you over $100 by the time you complete the filing process. Their premium versions can cost a lot more, even after the discount from a coupon or service code.

The state of California offered free filing of taxes

In California, the Ready Return program didn’t attract much attention, but the overwhelming majority of those few Californians who allowed the state to handle their return reported being happy with the process and said they would use it again.

That’s a problem for Intuit, which is why it’s openly admitted that it doesn’t want the government to be in the business of preparing returns for its potential customers. In the past few years, Intuit has gone as far as to claim that having the government file tax returns would be a massive expansion of big government, despite the fact that former president and noted small-government advocate Ronald Reagan was in favor of allowing the IRS to provide Americans with their returns.

Free federal tax returns would be optional

There’s another fact in there that Intuit doesn’t want its potential customers to know: nobody would be affected by such a change if they didn’t want to be. If someone didn’t trust the government’s math or liked the process of doing their own taxes, they’d still have the option to do their taxes themselves by opting out of return-free filing. Much like the program in California, which is now known as Calfile, an IRS filing would be completely optional for anyone who wants to take part.

But for those Americans in the other 49 states, TurboTax will remain one of only a few options for Americans for the foreseeable future. With so few options, all but the most tax-savvy of Americans will have no choice but to spend part of their hard-earned money on one of the most basic acts of citizenship there is… and in many cases, they’ll be giving that money to someone who wants to make sure that reality never changes!

Know someone who uses TurboTax? Please share:

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best free tax file software

Best FREE Online Tax Preparation Software: Our Top Options for 2017

What is the best free online tax service to use in 2017? If you have a simple or 1040ez tax return, there are a number of free versions of tax software from popular brands. But, which is best for you, and is it truly free? We researched the most popular free tax sites online, and came up with our list of the best four options to consider.

Just remember that if you have a mortgage, claim dependents, or have other deductions, you might have to opt for one of the premium versions of the software. (with the exception of TaxAct, which can handle complex tax returns for free)

Paying up front for a premium or “deluxe” edition is often a good investment, costing less than what you could lose from a single missed deduction. Also, while these brands offer free filing of your Federal taxes, State fees are often extra unless you meet their qualifications including a maximum income threshold. Here’s our list of the best “free” tax software options:


#1 TurboTax

As one of the most user-friendly tax programs on the market, you should find that you have no problem using Turbo Tax. This really is the best free tax software that absolute novices can use with utter ease. One of the major pros of this tax software option is the fact that it imports tax documents from a vast variety of companies.

In fact, it may come as something of a surprise to learn that this particular software imports documents from 1.4 million financial institutions and other companies. I’m sure that you’ll agree that is seriously comprehensive; more so than many of the other downloads on the market.

To truly pay nothing to file with TurboTax AbsoluteZero, you must meet a number of qualifications, including that your adjusted gross income be under $31k. (Or, under $60k for military or those who are eligible for the earned income tax credit.)

The free version of TurboTax is pretty decent, however, there are also paid-for versions that are available including their popular Deluxe Edition. The cost of these forms of software tends to rise depending on how close the tax return deadline is. Make sure that you check out all the small print before you agree to anything. That way, you can be sure that you will never, ever get caught out.


#2: H&R Block

You’ve likely heard of the H&R Block free software before now. They do a ton of advertising during tax season, and there are hundreds of H&R Block office locations spread out through strip malls in every state.

Their website states that their free version is “best for first-time tax filers,” meaning that only simple returns will actually be free. While it’s true that this software is easy to use, there’s something you should know before you attempt to use it for yourself. You see, like TurboTax, the free version of H&R Block is only available for your Federal returns in most cases.

H&R Block has a number of qualifications for their software to truly be free including that your adjusted gross income not exceed $53k, and you must be under age 53. If you have a mortgage or are self-employed, consider their Deluxe Edition for as little as $25.

If you aren’t filing a 1040ez tax form, or you’re hoping to complete a more comprehensive version that searches for deductions, you will need to fork out money for the pleasure of doing so. That’s likely enough to put a fair few people off, but there are a whole load of advantages to using this tax accounting software.

If you need a little extra help along the way when it comes to filing your taxes, you should find that H&R Block is the perfect program for you. The helpful little ‘Learn More’ button is always available, which means that you should never have any problem understanding the software. All you have to do is click the tab and a short description box will open. Perfect. The navigation of the software should also be simple to follow; it works as a step-by-step platform which means you will never get lost.


#3: TaxACT

Again, this “free” software is only free when it comes to filing your Federal tax return. Still, it’s well worth your time and really is one of the best free tax software options on the market right now. Unlike it’s competitors TaxAct is not limited to simple tax returns, and can handle more complex tax situations than just 1040ez.

For a long time, it was hailed as one of the cheapest ways to do your taxes. However, you should know that there are a few costs to be considered before leaping at this opportunity. For example, if you need to itemize your accounts, you will actually need to use TaxACT Plus, which costs $14.99.

To qualify for the TaxAct Free File version, you must have an adjusted gross income under $52k.

So, what do you get with this tax software and why should you use it? Well, the security features on TaxACT are quite top-notch. For example, after just a few minutes of inactivity, the program will log you out safely. That means that you will never accidentally leave your personal information out for all to see. What’s more, the accounting software allows you to review your summary as you go. Bonus.


#4 TaxSlayer

  • taxslayer logoOne of the top free tax preparation software downloads online
  • Free Federal efile, State fee: free or $22
  • Visit taxslayer.com | Look for coupons
  • pcmag.com rating: 3/5

Finally, we come to TaxSlayer. I’m not a fan of the name, as I always picture a clip-art quality dragon getting slayed by a knight, but maybe that’s just me.

Compared to other accounting and tax programs on the market, Tax Slayer s is a rather basic setup. However, that does not mean that you should make the mistake of overlooking it. If you’re hoping for a straightforward, clean way to do your taxes, you may just have found it.

There is a rather helpful ‘Program Guide’ which will take you through the step-by-step process of completing your forms. Still, if you are used to filing your taxes, you might not even need the guide at all. Should that be the case, you can move ahead to the forms and get on with it. What’s more, the program supports all the most popular IRS forms, and so you should have no problems using this software.


The best free software for filing your taxes: just don’t sacrifice features for “free”

free signSo, with the exception of TaxAct, the free version of any software is intended for simple tax returns. If you have kids and a mortgage, you’re likely better off paying for a premium version of their software. In most cases, this will help you find more deductions, which will ultimately more than pay for the cost of the software. In fact, a single missed deduction, like giving $200 to charity, could cost you more than you saved by going with the free version of the software.

In any event, good luck, and I hope you’re able to truly file your taxes for free! If you’ve had experience with any of these free tax options, please send us your review!

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free turbotax filing freedom edition

Turbotax Free File: 2017 Free Federal Version – Free State?

turbotax logoFile your Federal taxes for free with TurboTax Free Edition: It’s tax season, and while you still have time until the 2017 tax deadline, you should roll up your sleeves and start collecting all those tax forms that you’ll need to start filing your taxes soon.

If you don’t own a home, have dependents or are a student, your might consider filing your simple tax return with TurboTax Free Edition 2017. Federal efile is free, state file is usually extra unless Intuit is running a promotion:

turbotax free version 2016 bannerTurboTax Free Federal, State fees extra

20% off TurboTax Deluxe here. (more complex tax returns)
Click to view all coupons for Turbo Tax


free kittens turbotax

Can You File State Taxes Free With TurboTax in 2017?

coupon shareState filing fees are usually extra, so the “free” applies only to your federal taxes. As a special promotion last year, TurboTax did off free state file, but that was the only time I’ve seen it.

How Much Does TurboTax State File Cost? Are there Coupons for State File?

While Federal eFile is free, the cost for state file is $39.99. (2017) You can use a coupon for Federal and state filing to reduce this cost by about 10%. You’ll see the initial discount on the software, and a 10% discount when you file your state tax return. State filing fees are the same for all versions, including the Home & Business 2017 edition of TurboTax.

TurboTax Freedom Edition Vs. Free Version: What’s the Difference?

The TurboTax Federal Free Edition is part of the standard lineup of TurboTax products from Intuit and is meant for simple tax returns. There is no limit on income level with the “free” version.

The TurboTax Freedom Edition is intended for lower-income tax filers regardless of the simplicity of their tax return. The Freedom Edition is offered through the IRS Free File Alliance Program. State returns are free with the Freedom Edition. More at turbotax.com.

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