TurboTax Wants Your Filing Process to Be As Difficult As Possible


Of course everyone dislikes filing taxes. The fact that we have to do so once a year is one of the main reasons so many Americans have low opinions of government–at least in the abstract.

And yet, the whole process might be easier were it not for the interference of…the people who make and sell tax filing software.

The Slate piece on TurboTax‘s lobbying efforts to defeat the passage of simplified “return-free filing” measures is damning enough to cause a mini-stroke, but we were particularly incensed by this line:

“A public relations firm working on the trade group’s behalf has been luring unsuspecting spokespeople to join its cause—reaching out to them without mentioning any lobbying ties.”

Shocking, we know.

Here’s a specific case as described by ProPublica:

“Angela Martin, director of an Oregon nonprofit, said a PR professional gave her a sample anti-return-free filing letter last year for her organization to send to Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore.”

The dishonesty on display here is staggering. The firm mentioned in the Slate story is JCI Worldwide working on behalf of the CCIA, a telecomm trade group that promotes “free markets” and counts TurboTax maker Inuit among its members.

But they’re not the only ones. Some of the same people who oppose return-free filing also oppose the very principle of paying taxes. No conflict of interest there…

The only reason this racket works is that there are so many degrees of separation between the people encouraged to write their congressmen and the people paying for the PR support that there’s no way for the average person to make the connection.

Can you tell how much we will never use TurboTax again?

@PatrickCoffee patrick.coffee@adweek.com Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.