Commentary

Why people are boycotting TurboTax and H&R Block this year

Both Dylan Matthews at Vox (“Why I’m boycotting TurboTax this year”) and Josh Hoxie at Inequality.org (“The call for boycotting TurboTax”) made a compelling case this week for boycotting the mega-corporations to whom so many of us turn to do their taxes. Both posts are definitely worth your time. This is from Matthews’:

“It’s tax season again, and that means you’re probably thinking about using TurboTax. You wouldn’t be alone; Intuit, the company that sells TurboTax, claims the app has 31 million users. Its competitors did pretty well for themselves too, with H&R Block preparing more than 20 million returns last cycle and millions more using TaxAct and TaxSlayer.

Let me be blunt: You should not pay for TurboTax. If you want to use a free version of TurboTax or H&R Block at Home or TaxAct, go nuts. But for the love of God, don’t give Intuit money.

TurboTax is an evil, parasitic product that exists entirely because taxes are confusing and hard to file. Worse than that, Intuit is one of the loudest voices on Capitol Hill arguing against measures that make it easier to pay taxes. The Obama administration has argued for automatic tax filing, in which the IRS uses income information it already has to fill out your tax return for you. That would save millions of Americans considerable time and energy every year, but the idea has gone nowhere. The main reason? Lobbying from Intuit and H&R Block.

Don’t give Intuit money. Don’t give H&R Block money. To do so is to perpetuate the status quo in which you have to file your own taxes in the first place. The best way to escape this trap is for millions of taxpayers to start doing their own taxes in hopes of weakening Intuit and H&R Block and depriving them of money they could use to lobby against auto-filing. This requires privileging your own long-term interests ahead of your short-term ones; it’s mildly annoying to do your taxes by hand for now, but in the long run, if the plan works, you won’t have to do your own taxes at all.”

And here’s Hoxie:

“Just how much are we talking? To give you just a small taste of how bad it is, consider that Turbotax’s parent company, Intuit, spent $13 million lobbying congress from 2011 to 2015 in an effort to oppose automatic tax filing. Of course, Turbotax is not alone. With them is H&R Block, another company I’ve used in the past. They spent over $7 million in just the past five years. And that’s just lobbying, not including campaign contributions.

Now you might be thinking, like I did, wait there’s a way to make tax time wicked easy? Yes, and it’s been around for decades with support ranging from Obama to Reagan. It’s called “The Simple Return” and simply requires the IRS to send you a pre-filled out return using the documents they already have. Depending on your deductions, you might have to do one more step or you might be done just by sending it back. Then you’re done. Seriously, finding a stamp might be the hardest part.”

Both might have also added the fact that Block is guilty of being a leader in the predatory tax refund loan scam.

The bottom line: Both men argue convincingly that there are better and cheaper ways to do your taxes that will be better for you and, in the long run, much better for the country.

4 Comments


  1. Laurie

    April 1, 2016 at 4:41 pm

    Intuit is one of those companies that nickle and dime you to death, just to utilize their software then they also have several multi level marketing elements they add in.
    I was so happy when our company outgrew QuickBooks. Unfortunately, it has become the defacto favorite of many CPAs who funnel their clients into it. And you know, that is just the easy button talking.

    There are other alternatives to any of Intuit Products. For instance, if a small mom and pop, you might find Fresh Books, Turbo Cash or OS Financials to be a better alternative.

    Credit Card Processing? Here again many differing competing companies and products to choose from.

  2. jstiles5

    April 4, 2016 at 10:27 am

    I’ve been using TuboTax for about 10 years and it went reasonably well. NOT THIS YEAR.
    It’s been a horror from start to finish. Something keeps changing my password and I can’t
    even get into the software. I’ve changed it 4 times now and again can’t get in. Though
    I bot the software, I’m going to have to go to an accountant and get them to finish my
    taxes since I can’t get it to work. Another reason not to use TurboTax. NEVER AGAIN.

  3. Someone

    April 4, 2016 at 6:25 pm

    Schofield said “Both might have also added the fact that Block is guilty of being a leader in the predatory tax refund loan scam.” HR Block doesn’t actually offer tax refund loans. They do have a non tax season program for a line of credit however.

  4. Rob Schofield

    April 4, 2016 at 10:24 pm

    Should have said that Block WAS guilty of selling these things and that they are still engaged in lots of other bottom feeder behavior.

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