In the last five years, Intuit, the maker of TurboTax, has spent $11.5 million lobbying the federal government. One of the things they're lobbying against is something called "return-free filing."
Never heard of it? That's weird. It's been successfully implemented in Denmark, Sweden and Spain, and only one of those countries is on the verge of financial collapse.
Here's how return-free filing would work:
You'd open up a pre-filled return, see what the government thinks you owe, make any needed changes, and be done. … The government-prepared return would estimate your taxes using information your employer and bank already send it.
The IRS [would] pre-populate 1040s with numbers from W-2s, 1098s and 1099s and to produce a tentative result. A taxpayer could then chose to sign the IRS’s 1040 draft, treat it as a starting off point, or trash it and start fresh."
Tons of people could benefit from return-free filing.
Advocates say tens of millions of taxpayers could use such a system each year, saving them a collective $2 billion.
But that's $2 billion that dumbass taxpayers would otherwise pay to us accountants – or to Intuit or H&R Block.
Seems pretty clear why Intuit opposes return-free filing, but Intuit insists that its motivation is pure:
Intuit argues that allowing the IRS to act as a tax preparer could result in taxpayers paying more money.
Yeah. But allowing TurboTax to act as a tax preparer could also result in taxpayers paying more money.
The Stop IRS Takeover Campaign is fighting to stop the massive expansion of the U.S. government through a big government program called “Simple Return,” “Return Free” or “Ready Return.” Advocated by the White House and soon to be introduced to Congress, a “Simple Return” system will give power to the IRS to not only collect your taxes, but also prepare your taxes.
Wait. The U.S. government having the power to prepare your taxes is like me having the power to not only watch House Hunters International, but also to watch House Hunters
International with you, in your house, on your tufted leather loveseat. I have that power. I mean, I can do it. It's totally against the law if I do it without your permission, but I can do it. I can wait on the sidewalk in front of your house, and when I see you, I can say, "Hey! Wanna watch House Hunters International with me? It's on twenty-two hours a day on HGTV. I'd be willing to sit on your tufted leather loveseat and enjoy this basic-cable treat with you." I already have that power, and it's way more creepy than return-free filing.
Regardless of how they dress this up, Intuit is simply trying to prevent return-free filing to be able to leverage the regulatory environment to line its pockets. Without return-free filing, many taxpayers, like rapper Ice Cube, believe they can only prepare their own tax return with the help of Intuit's TurboTax. As Ice Cube says, "You can do it, put your back Intuit."