Homer's Travels: A Taxing Time For TurboTax

Saturday, February 07, 2015

A Taxing Time For TurboTax

I have been using Intuit's TurboTax to prepare my taxes since the early 90s. My experience last year was a bit frustrating with the technical problems I had early on but I managed to get it working without Intuit's help (I talked about that experience here). After last year's problems I expected things to go smoother this year. Well ... this year TurboTax has been hit with two problems. One is not their fault. The other is 100% self-induced.

I saw the first problem in the news. Some a-holes are using TurboTax to file fraudulent tax returns and stealing refunds from slow filers. Read more about it here. This isn't really TurboTax's problem. They were just unlucky to be the most popular software so the a-holes picked on it.

The second problem was totally self-induced. I have used TurboTax Deluxe to prepare my taxes and have never had problems. This year TurboTax removed the ability to electronically file certain forms including forms need to report investment income. When you reached that point in the Deluxe version it would force you to upgrade ($25-$35 dollars more!) to their Premier version so you could report your investments. They claimed they were trying to simplify things. They said you could still file electronically but you would have to snail mail the investment forms.  WTF?!?  People buy this software so they can avoid snail mailing forms.  This, naturally, pissed off a lot of people.  Just check out the comments on Amazon.

TurboTax, belatedly I think, finally corrected the hole they shot in their own foot. They sent out an email.  Here is what it says:
Dear Bruce,

We recently tried to explain the changes made to our TurboTax desktop software and apologized for the impact it had on you. Many responded and let us know our apology and rationale were not acceptable.

You want the TurboTax desktop product (CD or download) you've used in the past to do what it has always done—handle your tax situation. We heard you. It's time we make it right.

Beginning February 7, 2015, you can buy the same product you'd normally buy, and if you need to upgrade for your tax situation, we'll help you do that at no additional cost. This means you'll get all the forms you need, including Schedules C, D E, and F, without paying anything extra. Learn more.

If you're a returning TurboTax Deluxe CD or download customer and you've already filed using TurboTaxPremier or TurboTax Home & Business, we're offering you $25 cash back. Simply visit TurboTax.com/25back to claim your money.

Next, we are committed to bringing back the product you know and love. By the time you are ready to prepare and file your taxes next year, the TurboTax desktop product you trusted in the past will include the forms you've counted on for years.

I understand our actions have caused anger and frustration, and our response has been far too slow. TurboTax is committed to regaining your trust and providing you with the level of excellence you have come to expect.

Thank you for your feedback and continued loyalty, Sasan Goodarzi and the TurboTax Team
General Manager, Intuit TurboTax
I got this email before the fraud news came out.   I was seriously considering buying TurboTax.  They were doing the right thing.  I tend to be a loyal to a fault.  I mean almost thirty years of loyalty here folks.  But ... when the fraud news came out I went online and downloaded H&R Blocks Tax Software.  It was even $20 cheaper than TurboTax Deluxe!

I had a quick, pain free install.  It loaded last year's TurboTax file and, in less than an hour, I'd completed the first draft of my Federal return.  It asks fewer questions than TurboTax (not sure if this good or bad) but seems just as easy and complete as TurboTax.  My plan is to finish my taxes this week, the earliest I've done them in years.

I feel a little guilty.  As I said, I'm loyal to a fault.  But this year, enough was enough.  Goodbye TurboTax.  Have a nice life.

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