from the getting-intuit dept
Three years back, Mike wrote a piece about how Intuit, maker of TurboTax software, was actively lobbying against a system that would allow for a simple, quick way of filing income taxes (a way that might possibly mean fewer people need to buy TurboTax). Basically, the government could give you pre-filled out forms with all the info it received from your employer and you could just review it, click okay, and be done with your taxes. Intuit's explanation for fighting this ranged from lying by saying taxpayers already had access to that functionality (they don't) and misleading when they said it was a conflict of interest for the government to be the tax preparer and collector (the government wouldn't be doing any actual preparation). Now, as we approach the income tax deadline in the United States, Intuit has changed its tune. That doesn't mean they've stopped lobbying against this system, which has been backed by presidents from Reagan to Obama. Rather, their excuses have simply changed to be at once even more misleading and simultaneously more honest.
Let's take the first excuse, for instance.
Intuit argues it might cost some taxpayers more money.Well, thank science that we have disinterested parties like Intuit looking out for our tax-paying well-being. The system would cost more money? Obviously the government is trying to force more taxes out of hard-working 'Mericans! That would be the conclusion you could reach if the proposed return-free filing program wasn't entirely optional. Instead, Intuit comes off as merely wishing to keep choices away from Americans. As for their second reason:
Such changes would hurt its business.Boom, honesty. Requesting tax-paying options not be given to American citizens because it would hurt a company's bottom line is an interesting argument to make. By interesting, of course, I mean laughably silly. What's not silly is that for the past five years, the $11.5 million Intuit has paid in lobbying efforts has resulted in the selling out of the American taxpayer. Reports suggest that enabling a return-free system would save taxpayers up to $2 billion (with a "b") and over two hundred million hours in preparation time.
But, hey, that apparently won't stop the company and a couple of key allies from fanning the flames of anti-government conservatives to make sure it rakes in billions (also with a "b"). Intuit has decried the simple filing solution to be "big government", despite the conservative argument generally looking to make the tax system more simple. Backing them, unbelievably, is tax activist Grover Norquist.
Can someone please tell me why the hell Grover is fighting simpler taxes?