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(Time)   TurboTax and H&R Block have managed to turn their respective tax programs into bitter class warfare   (business.time.com) divider line 46
    More: Asinine, H&R Block, class warfare, TurboTax, r block, dirty jobs, the collective, Intuit, Zumba  
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15341 clicks; posted to Main » on 10 Feb 2013 at 3:21 AM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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Archived thread
2013-02-10 03:52:55 AM
5 votes:
My tax guy was one of the many many many tax people working for W during his administration. Has a nice picture of him W and Laura up on the wall in his waiting room, right next to a copy of his degrees from Universities that have real buildings and addresses and everything.


That said, he doesn't get me any more money back than I find being careful and attentive with turbo tax.

So why do I go to him? Lots of reasons.

-he can answer my questions about tax shiat, all year round, with just a phone call. and he spends all year round learning more and more ins and outs (not a crash course), so his answers are always informed and correct.

-I have a buffer of deniability and responsibility between me and any audit-gone-bad

-my tax guy's business relies on his reputation. The guy at HR block? He isn't impacted in nearly the same magnitude if he screws up vs my guy.

-hot secretaries (that HR Block crew is kinda homely lookin),

-good coffee

I'd say if you want to do your taxes yourself, go for it.

If you want to take them to an "expert"... spend the few extra dollars to go to an actual expert, not an "expert".
2013-02-10 12:56:45 AM
5 votes:
How about neither?  There's a local CPA that would love your business and will find you deductions that HR Block and Turbo Tax will not and will not install malware like Turbo Tax.
2013-02-10 12:30:36 AM
4 votes:
This is a delicate subject, especially in the service industry.

I did taxes at night when I was teaching. We had people who wanted to cheat, people who wanted to claim their little brother on the EIC, and strippers.

Strippers were actually our best clients. I'd counsel them straight up: "Look you made $21,000 in tips last year without a tip from the bar. You're going to have to pay your Social Security and Medicare, but with EIC, you're going to get back $4,000."

I don't know what the numbers are right now, but it's still actually to your advantage to claim all the money you made, unless you're a millionaire.
2013-02-10 12:18:16 PM
3 votes:
Am I the only person in this country who just does his own taxes without software or assistance?  If you're a wage or salary earner and just have the normal deductions (mortgage interest, property and state tax, charity, etc) it's really not that hard.
2013-02-10 11:35:41 AM
3 votes:
if you can't do your own taxes then you are an idiot
2013-02-10 04:51:39 AM
3 votes:
They funny thing about this class question that nobody else has pointed out, is that neither Intuit nor H&R Blocks programmers are tax specialists either.  The people building their software are more than likely Chinese or Indian subcontractors to boot, writing the code to some accountants that they will never meet specs, but not themselves having any clue about our tax system.
2013-02-10 04:24:32 AM
3 votes:
It's not class warfare, it's the truth. I grew up in a lower middle class family. I'm now on the cusp of upper middle class. I don't look down on plumbers or people who work retail. I do, however, have a problem with tax services that charge a an arm and part of a leg to do what anyone with access to a computer can do. The people sitting across from you, who are the only defense against you and an audit, should have more than a couple days training on how to fill in boxes. They're not experts for the most part and they shouldn't call themselves that. Also, those people have access to every piece of information needed to steal an identity: complete with income!
2013-02-10 04:06:38 AM
3 votes:

Coming on a Bicycle: This story is very difficult to understand for a non-USian, I guess. Both TFA and the reactions here do not provide many clues; are you supposed to file your income tax with some amateur who uses a piece of software? Why?


We can file our own taxes, but our government has made the forms so complicated that it takes someone with an advanced degree to fill them out properly.  Unless you are a single person with no family, who earns very little money.  Then, you just enter how much you made in one box, deduct a standard arbitrary number from that, and find out how much money the government owes you back.
2013-02-10 01:56:52 AM
3 votes:
ecmoRandomNumbers:Those places, (and I say this out of experience) use DOS-based (still, OMG!) software that gets updated ONCE per year, not every day. What this means is... the tax laws on January 1 will be your tax laws. If it means that you only got a $4000 refund, this year, that's OK. But you WILL be out $2000 next year. Remember, YOU sign your tax forms. Your preparer only has a number. He doesn't even have to show up in court for you.What backwater CPA are you using? If you go into their office and you notice they are running Quickbooks then yes, you really shouldd run.
Most decent CPA's are using some software that is updated via the Internet and guaranteed to be up to date. Who would you rather have as a backup during an audit: your local tax person or Turbo Tax LLC (yes Intuit)?
2013-02-10 10:36:26 AM
2 votes:
I went to one of those seasonal tax places once right after I graduated because I was worried about not doing my taxes right. The guy just entered my info and  I had to correct him several times about different deductions  I could take. Then he says "wow your really smart at this stuff, you should come work here. All you have to do is take a weekend class". I got kind of pissed when he then charged me $250.

/owns a business now
// pays my tax guy a ton of money so I don't have to deal with it
///tax pros are worth every penny.
2013-02-10 09:49:59 AM
2 votes:
here is an idea. adjust your withholding from your paycheck to make it so you don't get a refund.

hold on to that money rather than giving the government an interest free loan each year.
2013-02-10 09:44:17 AM
2 votes:

MurphyMurphy: -I have a buffer of deniability and responsibility between me and any audit-gone-bad


No. No. No. No. And no.
You do not.
2013-02-10 04:47:42 AM
2 votes:
I'm one of the lucky people who live outside of the USA and get to pay USA taxes as well as local taxes.  I was talking to the head of the Aussie Tax Office department who run their international tax compliance division.  He made the comment that no one in his department knows all the rules since the US agreement covers something like 80,000 pages.  I asked him who did know and he said Rupert Murdoch's lawyers since they wrote the rules.
2013-02-10 04:47:33 AM
2 votes:
I don't understand the basis for H&R Block's suit to stop the commercials. From the article, at least, it appears that the commercials:

1. Don't specifically refer to Block
2. Accurately state that some tax services use seasonal "non tax professionals"

Since when is "It's true but might make us look bad" a legitimate reason to sue to have a competitor's commercials yanked?
2013-02-10 04:01:34 AM
2 votes:
I didn't see those commercials as an attack on social classes or people working multiple jobs.

I saw it as Innuit making fun of H&R's hiring of seasonal people.

Maybe I'm dumb.
2013-02-10 03:42:03 AM
2 votes:
This story is very difficult to understand for a non-USian, I guess. Both TFA and the reactions here do not provide many clues; are you supposed to file your income tax with some amateur who uses a piece of software? Why?
2013-02-10 03:41:01 AM
2 votes:

omnibus_necanda_sunt: ecmoRandomNumbers: Those places, (and I say this out of experience) use DOS-based (still, OMG!) software that gets updated ONCE per year, not every day.

They are not 'DOS-based.' They run on the Sharia law of Dear Leader and his master, Soros, the Eternal Jew. They will take all of your money. It will be rubbed upon the usurper's Kenyan flesh and across the crevices and jowls of the Jew, as they commit crimes against nature and insult the Lord Our God.

But my treasures are of gold, gold, not paper! They cannot be taken away, for I have secreted them in a church, where no liberal or unclean peoples may travel, lest their flesh burn and expose their perversion.

And should my fellow churchmen turn their back on the commandments and attempt to take what I have gained through my own hard work, I possess the weapon of THE LORD OUR GOD: An AR-15 Bushmaster that fires bullets of solid gold.

You have sown the negro, and you shall reap the socialism.


The worst thing is that is not the worst thing I've heard. And that was a serious statement not a satirical one.
2013-02-10 12:19:37 AM
2 votes:
Or for only a few buck more you could have an actual accountant, and pretend you are above all this shiat.
2013-02-09 11:57:26 PM
2 votes:
Was that a cheap shot by Intuit? Sure, it was a dick move and they probably shouldn't have done it. That being said it'll probably work and more importantly H&R Block spends more than enough time trying to fleece their customers that it's hard to feel sorry for them.
2013-02-11 01:27:58 AM
1 votes:

phartman: There is no program that handles expat taxes (yes, expats have to pay US tax - the only country in the world to do so), and also requires you to have a paid tax preparer. It sucks and the US gummint is a gd parasite.


I'll just whistle innocently while going back to my job doing cross-border Canada-US personal tax. Thanks Mr Parasite.

Nah, the US citizenship based tax is stupid and can really make US expat tax returns a mess. If I was to reform the Code, my first step would be to end it (or remove filing statuses and joint returns, one or the other). And this is from a non-US citizens who benefits from it.
2013-02-11 01:02:54 AM
1 votes:
There is no program that handles expat taxes (yes, expats have to pay US tax - the only country in the world to do so), and also requires you to have a paid tax preparer. It sucks and the US gummint is a gd parasite.
2013-02-10 02:21:40 PM
1 votes:

DS1970: these people know more about the tax code than a CPA.


Depends. There are many different CPAs specializing in very different fields. Even within tax there can be huge differences. Ideally you would want a CPA specializing in personal and/or small business tax, depending on your situation, from a reasonably large firm (because larger firms generally specialize more and have more resources to bring in if there is an issue). But for that to be worth it you need to have very high income and/or very complex taxes, for example a Big Four accounting firm probably charges a minimum of $1000 to do a 1040. However, a local CPA is probably quite competent at basic personal taxes and small businesses as it is generally a significant proportion of their business.

In many cases you tax prepare will provide some protections in order to protect themselves, but in the end the IRS will come for you. You might get out of a few penalties or even be able to sue the preparer if there is negligence, but you will be billed all the interest and everything. Nothing that you can do will make you not liable for any return with your name on it. And possibly have to pay an accountant to clean up the mess.
2013-02-10 02:02:18 PM
1 votes:
fnottr: Am I the only person in this country who just does his own taxes without software or assistance? If you're a wage or salary earner and just have the normal deductions (mortgage interest, property and state tax, charity, etc) it's really not that hard.

If you have simple circumstances they yes it is simple to do them by hand. If however, you run a small business in addition to your regular job, then things can get hairy. Every couple years I try to do them by hand. After ~4 hours of tearing my hair out, I give up and go buy the program. The IRS really does a poor job of defining terms. I went to their website to track down a definition of some terms, to see if a given section pertained to me, and was 5 screens deep before I gave up.

As for H&R block - My side business is tutoring. One student I had had really bad math phobia. Guess what he did as a temp job.

I go to a real accountant if my taxes are more complicated, such as when I moved across country, changed jobs, and bought a house all in 1 year. The TurboTax program is good for regular circumstances - especially when it imports last year's info so you don't have to retype everything.You can also see where you had entries last year so you know that it is an area you probably have to fill out again this year. The in-person services are just hand holding. Some people need that though.
2013-02-10 01:54:55 PM
1 votes:

ShawnDoc: I went to an H&R Block once.  Poor fool had no idea what he was doing.  He would just click on the computer screen, it would tell him what to enter, and he'd go on to the next one.  Basically, the same thing Turbo Tax Online and all the other do, only paying a premium so some stranger can do it for you.

I had several 1099's that year, moved between states, and needed to do itemized dedications and he couldn't figure out how to do it.

Ended up paying a CPA to do it for me.


You don't know how to pic tax pros.  Believe me, Let's just say I know the exact machinations of paid tax prep companies, like a, say, HRB.  Let's also say I lived in Kansas City, MO for about a decade.

Anyway, two things about using a human tax preparer - #1, at places like HRB, you're paying not just for the return but for the protections you get if an audit situation comes up.

Also, as with any tax prep office (exactly same for Liberty, Jackson-Hewitt, HRB, etc.) is that there are levels of tax pro.  What you should ALWAYS ask for if you have a complex return is an "Enrolled Agent" - these people know more about the tax code than a CPA.

So...wherever you get paid tax prep (from a human) always ask for "Enrolled Agents" (EA's) and you'll always be happy.  I have pretty complex returns (e.g. I own two properties in another state in addition to my residence) but to use a CPA is like using the fire-department for a campfire.

P.S. I do not work for any tax prep (human and/or online) company.
2013-02-10 10:46:49 AM
1 votes:

omnibus_necanda_sunt: ecmoRandomNumbers: Those places, (and I say this out of experience) use DOS-based (still, OMG!) software that gets updated ONCE per year, not every day.

They are not 'DOS-based.' They run on the Sharia law of Dear Leader and his master, Soros, the Eternal Jew. They will take all of your money. It will be rubbed upon the usurper's Kenyan flesh and across the crevices and jowls of the Jew, as they commit crimes against nature and insult the Lord Our God.

But my treasures are of gold, gold, not paper! They cannot be taken away, for I have secreted them in a church, where no liberal or unclean peoples may travel, lest their flesh burn and expose their perversion.

And should my fellow churchmen turn their back on the commandments and attempt to take what I have gained through my own hard work, I possess the weapon of THE LORD OUR GOD: An AR-15 Bushmaster that fires bullets of solid gold.

You have sown the negro, and you shall reap the socialism.


That was a remarkably fun read.
2013-02-10 10:15:11 AM
1 votes:

Moonfisher: They don't need a crappy ad campaign.  I used H&R block for a couple of years.  They farked up pretty badly.  I've never had a problem with Turbo Tax, they have a better interface and they are easier to communicate with.


I worked at an HRB office for a few years, and was convinced that their software was designed to get people to come in to the office and pay a preparer. (It may be different now, was somewhat new then.)
2013-02-10 09:21:33 AM
1 votes:
The only reason I use H&R is because they import my info from the previous year. It takes me 5 mins to file. I could do it manually each year with little fuss but I don't like keeping up with paperwork. It's worth $20 to me to be hassel free and quick. If some day I start doing a lot of itemized deductions I may change my approach but until then.....
2013-02-10 09:03:35 AM
1 votes:

HotWingAgenda: We can file our own taxes, but our government has made the forms so complicated that it takes someone with an advanced degree to fill them out properly. Unless you are a single person with no family, who earns very little money. Then, you just enter how much you made in one box, deduct a standard arbitrary number from that, and find out how much money the government owes you back.


you do not need an advanced  degree, i did mine using  1040 and the associated instructions last year, just to see if i could since i then used H&R blocks online  service to  fill out and e-file
2013-02-10 08:30:02 AM
1 votes:
I love my accountant, but a couple days a year I desperately want to reach across the desk and slap the shiat out of her. Kinda the exact opposite of my attorney.
2013-02-10 08:13:12 AM
1 votes:

KawaiiNot: cherryl taggart: I use a CPA, even though I earn most of my income doing financial stuff for others, for several reasons.  He carries 'errors and omissions' insurance, which will kick in if ever needed.  It's been a great relationship for over 15 years, he answers questions year round, he takes all the courses to stay current, and his office can handle any other software I have to adapt to, like QuickBooks, Peachtree, Great Plains, etc.

But, mostly, standard accounting principles say to have a minimum of two sets of eyes examining all financial documents, preferably three, with one being an impartial third party.

What is the range of cost to have a CPA do your returns?


Depends on the complexity of the return, most times. Our firm has a minimum charge of $250 for an individual return. Of course, our client base is 90% business owners, so they are fairly complex. Plus, we have a few high level tax reduction strategies that further gum up the works.

You should be able to find a CPA that will prepare your return for about $150.

As for the article, all I can tell you is that when times were rough, I applied at both H&R and Intuit. Only Intuit asked if I was a licensed tax professional, as they required it. And that was only for the Tax Advice Service where no preparation was done.

I can say that, contrary to what someone said upthread, a good 75% of Intuit's programmers have a background in taxation. Not to mention that everything has to go through the tax department before it's released to the public to ensure accuracy. They DO NOT mess around with their accuracy guarantee.

Not to mention that TurboTax isn't the only program Intuit makes. They also make Quickbooks and Lacerte (a professional tax program). They have a pretty good handle on tax program coding. H&R Block makes.....professionals look bad.

/EA
//Former Intuit TAS guy
2013-02-10 08:03:15 AM
1 votes:
Isn't Turbo Tax the software little Timmy Geitner used and failed to pay over 100,000 in taxes until he was caught?  I loved how he could pay it without penalties just so they could confirm him.  I'm pretty sure I'd be in prison if I owed that much.
2013-02-10 07:45:17 AM
1 votes:

HotWingAgenda: Coming on a Bicycle: This story is very difficult to understand for a non-USian, I guess. Both TFA and the reactions here do not provide many clues; are you supposed to file your income tax with some amateur who uses a piece of software? Why?

We can file our own taxes, but our government has made the forms so complicated that it takes someone with an advanced degree to fill them out properly.  Unless you are a single person with no family, who earns very little money.  Then, you just enter how much you made in one box, deduct a standard arbitrary number from that, and find out how much money the government owes you back steals from others to give to you.


FTFY
2013-02-10 05:12:13 AM
1 votes:

psychicdeath99: I don't understand the basis for H&R Block's suit to stop the commercials. From the article, at least, it appears that the commercials:

1. Don't specifically refer to Block
2. Accurately state that some tax services use seasonal "non tax professionals"

Since when is "It's true but might make us look bad" a legitimate reason to sue to have a competitor's commercials yanked?


Since shut your piehole, you filthy maggot, that's when.

Seriously though, I'm guessing that the suit will be dismissed because the Supreme Court has previously said that people can lie on TV and have it covered by free speech, so why would they not be able to tell the truth on TV and have it covered by free speech?
2013-02-10 05:11:11 AM
1 votes:

Farkenhostile: Weird, there were 4 turbotax ads on the main page at once earlier then this story pops up. I'm starting to wonder how much of the crap we see on this site anymore is sponsored garbage.


I don't see any ads.

//loves adblock.
2013-02-10 04:56:46 AM
1 votes:
Must not be a very good plumber if he is having to moonlight as a tax preparer.
2013-02-10 04:47:46 AM
1 votes:

ecmoRandomNumbers: Those places, (and I say this out of experience) use DOS-based (still, OMG!) software that gets updated ONCE per year, not every day.


Ummm DOS is still a perfectly good operating system, it's used in a lot more places than you think and is in fact more stable than Windows as it does not have the unnecessary services and background programs running interfering with the primary software that you want to use.  The actual tax software is updated as the laws & IRS rules change, if they don't change after Jan 1st, there's no reason to update the software, so unbunch your panties the world's not going to end.
2013-02-10 04:27:05 AM
1 votes:

Coming on a Bicycle: This story is very difficult to understand for a non-USian, I guess. Both TFA and the reactions here do not provide many clues; are you supposed to file your income tax with some amateur who uses a piece of software? Why?


HotWingAgenda: We can file our own taxes, but our government has made the forms so complicated that it takes someone with an advanced degree to fill them out properly.  Unless you are a single person with no family, who earns very little money.  Then, you just enter how much you made in one box, deduct a standard arbitrary number from that, and find out how much money the government owes you back.


The "amateur" with the software charges a pittance and is fast at typing in the numbers by virtue of doing it all day. This, and the various warranties the tax-prep companies offer in case there's a mistake and the IRS demands penalties, are the value-added.

However.

Opinions will vary on the rest. The law is complicated, but the forms are simple. I'd say it's not much of a challenge to follow the directions, no matter how many schedules and forms your particular income stream requires, millionaires excepted. Sometimes it's not entirely clear if certain rules apply to you in the first place (does my home office qualify as a home office?) but those are the kinds of questions that the tax-prep places won't really be able to help with either. (Well, they can, but then you're not getting the $15 quickie, but the $150/hr deluxe package.)
2013-02-10 04:25:20 AM
1 votes:

Popcorn Johnny: azmoviez: How about neither?  There's a local CPA that would love your business and will find you deductions that HR Block and Turbo Tax will not and will not install malware like Turbo Tax.

Bullshiat, Turbo Tax cost me $79 and doesn't install any malware or other software.  It also finds any deduction any honest preparer will find.


I remember a year when the TurboTax installation wrote in the MBR and wiped out bootloaders.  If you repaired your bootloader, TurboTax wouldn't run.  Searching...searching...searching...Yep.  2003.

I still love me some TurboTax, tho.
2013-02-10 04:18:47 AM
1 votes:
Weird, there were 4 turbotax ads on the main page at once earlier then this story pops up. I'm starting to wonder how much of the crap we see on this site anymore is sponsored garbage.
2013-02-10 04:14:44 AM
1 votes:
I've been using the H&R Block online tax prep and filing for several years now and haven't had a problem.  It's usually free for a basic 1040EZ but this year I had to pay a little extra because I had to start adding Etsy sales.  I usually calculate everything by hand and paper then double check with the software and it always comes out fine.  Granted, once I buy a house or my finances get more complex I might want some professional help but I don't think (perhaps unjustifiably) it should be that hard for for me to prepare my own taxes.
2013-02-10 03:53:39 AM
1 votes:
Well, the commercials are pretty accurate. If you go to H&R Block and you do not have a long-term relationship with a career tax professional, you will get a McDonalds counter level employee doing your taxes, and they will probably know less than you do about taxes and be worse at math than you are if you are at all competent (which is admittedly not their target audience).

On the other hand, Turbo Tax software will not be any better than H&R Block software, other than that Turbo Tax had a years long campaign to fark you via DRM if you bought their software.
2013-02-10 01:43:07 AM
1 votes:

azmoviez: How about neither?  There's a local CPA that would love your business and will find you deductions that HR Block and Turbo Tax will not and will not install malware like Turbo Tax.


Those places, (and I say this out of experience) use DOS-based (still, OMG!) software that gets updated ONCE per year, not every day. What this means is... the tax laws on January 1 will be your tax laws. If it means that you only got a $4000 refund, this year, that's OK. But you WILL be out $2000 next year. Remember, YOU sign your tax forms. Your preparer only has a number. He doesn't even have to show up in court for you.
2013-02-10 01:18:21 AM
1 votes:
Since my ex-wife is one of those seasonal workers at HR Block, I'm using Turbo Tax.

/She's not good with money, especially when she didn't make it.
//But she is good at cheating, if you like that sort of thing.
2013-02-10 01:12:16 AM
1 votes:
I went to an H&R Block once.  Poor fool had no idea what he was doing.  He would just click on the computer screen, it would tell him what to enter, and he'd go on to the next one.  Basically, the same thing Turbo Tax Online and all the other do, only paying a premium so some stranger can do it for you.

I had several 1099's that year, moved between states, and needed to do itemized dedications and he couldn't figure out how to do it.

Ended up paying a CPA to do it for me.
2013-02-10 12:04:56 AM
1 votes:
You wouldn't want your doctor doing your job.  So don't do his. That's what TV commercials are for.
2013-02-09 11:48:41 PM
1 votes:
Taxes?  A class war? I NEVER!
 
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