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Businesses Software The Almighty Buck

Intuit Charges More For Previously Offered TurboTax Features, Users Livid 450

An anonymous reader writes: For years, the Deluxe edition of TurboTax was enough for investors and the self-employed to do their taxes. With this year's edition, Intuit removed Schedules C, D, and E, covering self-employment, investment income and asset depreciation. Those features now require an extra charge of $40. The company is getting murdered on Amazon reviews for it, with 900 users giving the software a 1-star rating.
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Intuit Charges More For Previously Offered TurboTax Features, Users Livid

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  • Just hire a CPA (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ark42 ( 522144 ) <slashdot@morpheussoftwa r e . n et> on Monday January 12, 2015 @07:10PM (#48797911) Homepage

    If you're self-employed, have investment income, or asset depreciation, you probably already do your taxes with a real CPA. If you aren't, you probably should.

    • Schedule D?! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by twitnutttt ( 2958183 ) on Monday January 12, 2015 @07:19PM (#48797975)

      Maybe I can understand the self-employment schedules as an upcharge, but Schedule D?!
      That's something the average American household should (hopefully) be needing for their investment savings.
      Owning a few mutual fund shares should hardly be an esoteric tax topic!

      Plus, ya know, ahhh Bitcoin. (Just kidding)

      • Re:Schedule D?! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by epyT-R ( 613989 ) on Monday January 12, 2015 @07:26PM (#48798041)

        Just because you're self employed doesn't mean you're rich.

        • Re:Schedule D?! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Monday January 12, 2015 @08:55PM (#48798757)

          Just because you're self employed doesn't mean you're rich.

          I have found that paying a CPA to do my taxes is a waste of money. Most CPAs just take your information, and pay some data entry clerk to type it into TurboTax. You might as well just put it in yourself. You have a bigger motivation than your CPA to find deductions, and you will learn from the experience how to better structure your business to avoid taxes in the future.

          • Re:Schedule D?! (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Snotnose ( 212196 ) on Tuesday January 13, 2015 @01:31AM (#48800151)

            I have found that paying a CPA to do my taxes is a waste of money.

            Get yourself a better CPA. Mine is a tax expert. First few years I used him I did my taxes in TurboTax to compare, he always found enough magic such that he paid for himself in taxes I saved. Not to mention I just had to shovel data to him, instead of spending a few hours in TT myself.
            Gotta find a new guy though, last year he told me he was getting married and moving out of state :(

        • Re:Schedule D?! (Score:5, Interesting)

          by OldSport ( 2677879 ) on Monday January 12, 2015 @09:19PM (#48798957)

          It's all cost-benefit. It would take me at least a full working day to prepare everything on my own (I'm self-employed, with investments and several income streams from a couple of different countries), and my CPA charges less to do my taxes than I can make by spending the same amount of time working. I dunno, if your situation is very simple then doing it all yourself probably makes more sense, but as soon as it starts to get more complicated it's likely easier and more economically feasible to hire someone. (Not a CPA, by the way; no horse in this race.)

      • by Quirkz ( 1206400 )

        Well, most retirement accounts (IRA, Roth, 401(k)) won't trigger a Schedule D, so it's only if you're investing outside of that, which many people may not need to.

      • Use TaxAct instead (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 12, 2015 @08:35PM (#48798607)

        Link [taxact.com]

        It is much cheaper, has equivalent features, and better technical support than TurboTax. I started using this back when TurboTax added horrible DRM to their offering, and have never looked back.

    • by Mr D from 63 ( 3395377 ) on Monday January 12, 2015 @07:20PM (#48797981)

      If you're self-employed, have investment income, or asset depreciation, you probably already do your taxes with a real CPA. If you aren't, you probably should.

      Sounds like something a CPA might say.

      • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

        You know I often thought that if you did all your transaction via one bank, that bank should throw in tax returns as part of it services. They already have a record of all your transactions, they can pretty much automatically categorise them based upon their nature and only very little review would be required to finalise them. They could even provide that small amount of additional software as part of their fiscal year services.

        When it comes to private companies ramping charges for exactly the same thin

        • Re:Just hire a CPA (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Darinbob ( 1142669 ) on Monday January 12, 2015 @11:04PM (#48799579)

          If you get even one number wrong or leave off something, you get an ominous letter from the IRS and you have to correct your form. So if the feds already know all this information, they should just send us a completed tax form for us to either agree with or amend it with deductions. Most of the stuff on the form has already been reported to the IRS; exceptions would be self employment, foreign income, tips, etc.

      • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Monday January 12, 2015 @08:42PM (#48798659) Journal
        And it might well be; but it was Untuit, among others, who helped save. Us from the crushing fascism of having the IRS provide us with the estimate of what whe owe(which they obviously calculate anyway in order to look for discrepancies.) Hire your own independent person if your position suits it; but it is absurd, (and directly a side effect of lobbying by people who ought to be lined up and shot, in the gut, and allowed to die slowly) how little the IRS can simplify even the most prosaic of tax returns without a private middleman taking their pound of flesh.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by gatfirls ( 1315141 )

      ...or if 40$ hurts that bad maybe reconsider your self employment and/or investments.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        $40, plus the time to interview accounts, plus a couple of drives to the accountant, plus the security risk of yet someone else (who is a target) having your banking and investment information, add in that the time to do all of that is probably billable time that you lost, since your accountant also works days.

        Now consider the full time college student who's got a few contract jobs and a few grand in investments. Boom, there goes all of the investment income and quite a bit of work. Fuck you for not being t

      • Re:Just hire a CPA (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Monday January 12, 2015 @07:50PM (#48798279)

        ...or if 40$ hurts that bad maybe reconsider your self employment and/or investments.

        The point is, they aren't offering anything for that $40. It's the same thing as last year, but twice the price. And there are a dozen other products out there that don't charge that much. In fact, many are free and simply charge for state filing.

    • Re:Just hire a CPA (Score:5, Informative)

      by Frobnicator ( 565869 ) on Monday January 12, 2015 @07:32PM (#48798095) Journal

      If you're self-employed, have investment income, or asset depreciation, you probably already do your taxes with a real CPA. If you aren't, you probably should.

      Not necessarily. If you've already got your home and other items paid for, you can be self employed and live off a fairly meager self-employed income. Or alternatively, if you have a lot of investments you can survive quite well with no direct income. Just because you have some wealth or are self employed does not mean you have a lot of discretionary funds, nor that you want to spend those funds on a tax professional.

      A quick search of Google for tax prep costs for an 1040 with an itemized schedule A, plus Schedule C, Schedule D, and Schedule SE (which are the ones I personally file for my own home business), plus the similar state tax forms, have a starting cost around $400.

      The big tie-in for Intuit is if you use their accounting software (Quicken for individuals, QuickBooks for small business and personal mixed funds) and properly mark your transactions then TurboTax will automatically do all the hard parts of the taxes for you, almost zero data entry was required. It would automatically itemize everything based on all the details you enter for every transaction over the year. You end up paying about $150 per year in software, but it makes accounting a little bit easier.

      They could have done this with much less backlash with a little bit of additional communication. Maybe announce two years in advance that the prices will be going up, making it visible as part of the annoying ads they have built into both products in recent years. It is still cheaper than hiring someone to do it, but it is an unexpected cost they didn't mention until the last minute.

      • Re:Just hire a CPA (Score:5, Insightful)

        by AuMatar ( 183847 ) on Monday January 12, 2015 @07:37PM (#48798157)

        If they had just said "Hey we're raising prices" rather than hiding the price increase by removing features and making you pay extra for them, they'd probably have come out ok- a bit of a hit from the higher prices, but not too much. The dishonesty of this is what's killing them.

        • "The dishonesty of this is what's killing them."

          On Slashdot, but Slashdot users are what, 0.001% of their customers? Then there's the fraction of people who decide their tax preparation software purchases based on Amazon.com reviews. That leaves PLENTY of other customers who might have balked at a price increase, but who will now happily go pay $40 ... and then realize they need an upgrade and pay $40 more. They won't be happy about it, but they're probably not going to switch tax preparation software in

        • by jaymz666 ( 34050 )

          It's release day DLC that adds in features expected at the base price.

    • If you're self-employed, have investment income, or asset depreciation, you probably already do your taxes with a real CPA. If you aren't, you probably should.

      Why? It's not hard. Depreciation is just that. Investment income is easily handled with the standard reporting.

      Employment is hard. We pay a CPA to do the stuff for our 2 part time employees. But the taxes I just drop into Turbotax.

      • If you're self-employed, have investment income, or asset depreciation, you probably already do your taxes with a real CPA. If you aren't, you probably should.

        Why? It's not hard. Depreciation is just that. Investment income is easily handled with the standard reporting.

        Employment is hard. We pay a CPA to do the stuff for our 2 part time employees. But the taxes I just drop into Turbotax.

        Depreciation may not be hard for you.

        For damn near everyone else, including lots of people who think taxes are easy, remembering which category every-damn-thing falls into is virtually impossible. Remembering that MACRS replaced ACRS in '86, which means that a rental house that's been rented out sine 1984 could be on a 15, 35, or 45-year table (depending on what the taxpayer chose back then), etc. is just a fucking nightmare. Especially for personal vehicles used for business use. Sometimes you can deduct d

    • Re:Just hire a CPA (Score:5, Interesting)

      by K. S. Kyosuke ( 729550 ) on Monday January 12, 2015 @07:53PM (#48798293)
      Considering that this is one of those things that are virtually perfect for computer automation, how do you know that "real CPAs" won't actually be computers in ten to twenty years?
      • Re:Just hire a CPA (Score:5, Insightful)

        by lgw ( 121541 ) on Monday January 12, 2015 @08:25PM (#48798519) Journal

        My "real CPA" does just type all my info into his (better) program, then file my taxes and charge me $500. Easily worth it: he can drag me through the whole process in 1 hour, including exceptions. "Oh, Fidelity screwed up your basis for these positions, as they have with all my clients, here let me add the form where I amend that so you don't get charged twice". No stress, 5 minutes, fixed. He adds a ton of value to what he tax program does by understanding context.

      • by jaymz666 ( 34050 )

        The last time I went to a tax preparer that's basically what they did, they entered the numbers into their own system and charged me lotsa money

      • by mjwx ( 966435 )

        Considering that this is one of those things that are virtually perfect for computer automation, how do you know that "real CPAs" won't actually be computers in ten to twenty years?

        Not really. CPA's are protecting themselves by creating more obscure and obtuse tax rules.

    • "Self-employed" in IRS-speak covers a whole fucking lot of people. If you get paid more then $400 from somebody who doesn't withhold Social Security and Medicare you're self-employed.

      You are required to file a Schedule C or Schedule C-EZ with a 1040A. You can;t use the simpler (and, at tax places that charge by the form, cheaper) 1040A or 1040EZ.

      I do taxes in a fairly poor neighborhood. Per capita income is in the $20k range. And I get a lot of people who have a side-gig that doesn't do withholding. If they

    • I've been self-employed (and now my wife is), I have investment income, and doing taxes myself takes me maybe an hour or two, once a year. It would be silly to get outside help for that.

      If I was in a truly difficult tax situation, sure. But especially Schedule D, what the heck? I imagine it's a very common form, and it's trivial to do oneself.

    • Or you can take control of your life, download the PDFs, fill them out and mail in your return for the cost of a stamp or two. You know, like people did before the tax preparation industry blossomed and everybody became innumerate without the crutch of a computer.

  • I remember back in the days of QuickTax -- Windows users could buy QuickTax for a decent price and do their taxes. However, if you had a Mac, you needed to buy Deluxe, as that was the only version provided for the platform -- at a higher price than the Windows Deluxe version, both of which were twice the price of the regular version.

    What were the extras you got? IIRC, it was the self-employment, investment income and asset depreciation packages, along with some retirement planning tools.

    The other gotcha: the schedules were never updated until AFTER the early filing deadline, which meant I always had to file an update once I'd re-calculated for actual retirement values/contributions.

    Well, it's been around 15 years now since I ditched Intuit for a web-based alternative that just works (I get tax refunds now within two weeks of filing), and I see absolutely no reason to go back, or recommend anyone else uses an Intuit product. This is just another nail in the Intuit coffin.

    But I hear they're one of the best places to work....

    • ok...i give...what's your web-based alternative's website address?
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        taxact.com. Last time I used it, it was free. Free for everyone. You only had to pay $9.95 if you wanted a PDF copy of your taxes.

        • by suutar ( 1860506 )

          I also use TaxAct. They charge for other stuff too, like State taxes, but I have no problem with that.

  • By coincidence (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 12, 2015 @07:21PM (#48797993)

    Intuit top management got a huge pay raise [morningstar.com] in 2014. That money's gotta come from somewhere.

  • by Mr.Intel ( 165870 ) <mrintel173.yahoo@com> on Monday January 12, 2015 @07:21PM (#48797997) Homepage Journal
    According to one article [msn.com] you can call them to complain and get a free upgrade to the version you need or send a scan of your receipt to H&R Block and get a free version of Tax Cut that has all the forms. Personally, I prefer the former so Intuit knows they have an unhappy customer serious enough to call them on these shenanigans.
  • and apparently "chicken" isn't valid input? 1/5 This new software sucks.
  • It seems Intuit is now in damage control mode; apparently if you call them and bitch enough they will upgrade you to "Premier" for free.

    I've been a quickbooks customer for a long time, so I'm kind of used to the fleecing. I have never had a high opinion of Intuit the company; Quickbooks works well enough for the money, but if there was a reasonable alternative I would be gone in seconds.

    Intuit sucks.

    • Wow! If corporations are people too, Intuit appears to be acting like a very stupid one. It is painful to read their responses to the complaints on Amazon.

      For example:
      "As I've mentioned in many other places, you are NOT required to upgrade to Premier. You can still use forms mode to complete Schedule D and print/mail your return to the IRS. There is no forced upgrade or requirement that you purchase Premier."

      I literally was going to order TurboTax tonight. I've been using it for years. Not anymo
  • Has anyone ever tried to create an open source tax preparation software? It seems like a good candidate for open source software. The public could check it for accuracy and contribute better tax saving strategies to the greater public.
    • by Herkum01 ( 592704 ) on Monday January 12, 2015 @07:31PM (#48798081)

      As I recall the company was called the IRS. Yes that is right the IRS put out software so you could do your taxes.

      You know why you don't see it? Lobbying by tax preparation companies.

    • If the tax code was rational.
      The problems are that multiple levels of tax code interact in complex ways that vary with the exact addresses involved in the claim.
      So, you're not writing one codebase which does taxes, but in a very real sense, thousands.

      • It is incredibly fucking complex.

        I work for a major tax prep company, and we're upgrading this year. The big bosses finally got sick of paying two guys to come out of retirement every year because nobody else understands a DOS Codebase.

        They've been trying to upgrade for about three years, but the program was never ready. Even today we'll have to switch over to the old DOS software for certain returns.

    • One word; gaurantee. If the correct information is entered into a Turbotax and they make a mistake in calculation you can get re-paid for penalties and interest under their Turbotax accurate calculations guarantee [intuit.com]. Open Source software can not do that.

    • by pavon ( 30274 ) on Monday January 12, 2015 @07:42PM (#48798203)

      Tax preparation software is not a good candidate for open source software. You need domain experts (accountants and lawyers) to be involved to validate the interpretation of the Tax Code; open source projects have a difficult time attracting these sort of contributors. The law changes every year and if you don't keep on top of the changes becomes worse than useless; it becomes a liability. You have solid deadlines; you can't just release when it is ready.

  • by ourlovecanlastforeve ( 795111 ) on Monday January 12, 2015 @07:31PM (#48798085)
    Yeah, this is a thing companies are doing to consumers now.

    It's also a big topic of conversation at the dinners I have to sit through with money-grubbing shitfaced sociopathic CEOs.

    It's called retrocharging.

    It works on the same model as MMORPG's and DLC except it's more insidious: The company threatens to take away something you already have unless you pay them more money.

    Comcast does this. They are now doing "account audits" after which they send you a letter telling you they're going to start charging for features they claim you have always had but haven't been paying for.
  • So now that it's 1.5 stars, does that mean it's underrated? because it's still one of the best bits of software out there.

  • by darronb ( 217897 ) on Monday January 12, 2015 @07:34PM (#48798107)

    They 'expire' the online features of their Quicken, etc software every few years, to force an upgrade. They have no need to do anything on their end with the online connectivity... it's all connecting directly to banks. It's crippling their software to force upgrades that add very little value (and usually add more bugs than improvements).

    They also at least at one point had 'problems' connecting to network printers that they had to go out of their way to detect, just to force upgrades to higher level software.... because, you know... people with network printers must be businesses.

    F--- them. There are very few people I actually despise, and the executives there certainly made the list.

  • by jgotts ( 2785 ) <jgotts@NoSPaM.gmail.com> on Monday January 12, 2015 @07:35PM (#48798125)

    The best way to do your taxes is with a ball point pen on tax forms that you've printed on your own printer. Just fill in the same stuff you did last year, recalculating or modifying the numbers where they've changed.

    Federal + state takes about an hour, and you're not paying anyone a penny, except for two stamps. You can do self-employment taxes and investment income yourself, and pretty much anything a typical Slashdot reader would ever need.

    Don't bother with "free file" unless you work in a state without income tax. That's where they charge you. Forget about H&R Block: Saves you no time whatsoever and they charge you a lot. If you make an honest mistake on your taxes, you can file revised paperwork. The IRS understands that people make mistakes. H&R Block doesn't "find you money." They do the same work you can do in an hour.

    If you happen to make well over a hundred thousand dollars a year, congratulations, you're not a typical Slashdot reader. Pay an accountant to do the job. Don't even think about doing your own taxes.

    • Whether a retail tax place is a good deal really depends on two things:

      1) How good you are at following instructions written in simplified legal English.

      2) How much you're depending on these taxes to be exactly right.

      1) is much harder for most Americans then you'd think. The phrasing is quite complex. You have to immediately pick up on whether a line is asking you to use Adjusted Gross Income or Modified Adjusted Gross Income, etc. As Engineers most Slashdotters could probably do it. OTOH, as Engineers, wit

  • by NicBenjamin ( 2124018 ) on Monday January 12, 2015 @07:36PM (#48798147)

    If you have a side-job that doesn't withhold you are legally required to report it as a business. That way Self-Employment taxes get calculated properly, and you get credit with Social Security administration. The only out is if you earned less then $400. Then you're exempt from Schedule SE.

    Which means that if you make $500 helping a caterer do big banquets, or even if you work for a cheap-skate who does't like withholding, you've got a Schedule C. You have to have some records of whatever expenses you paid to do the job (this is pretty much the only way you can deduct commuting mileage), you have to put them on the form, the whole nine-goddamn yards.

    Schedule D is less common, but not as rare as you'd think. It;s where you report stock sales, so any Slashdotter who lived the dream of a successful start-up has filed quite a few of these. Most of Mitt Romney's income is actually reported on a D, because he pays himself with stock from his company, which he holds for a long time, which allows him to take advantage of the very low long-term Capital Gains rate.

    Schedule E is the rare one. It's only for landlords.

  • One year they includes a 'feature' that locked the version to a single computer. I had used Turbo Tax up until then but ditched it when they pulled that stunt. I have never looked back.

    How many versions do they have now? And WHY?

  • I switched to TaxAct last year as the discounts I got from my e-stock brokers were severely curtailed. What happened this year doesn't surprise me in the least.
    I have schedules D and E, and the only issue with TaxAct that I had 2013 taxes was the State E-filing option. I ended up filing state using paper.

  • A few years ago, a relative bought a new laptop that came with Windows Vista. She asked me for help putting her QuickBooks onto it.

    Her version of QuickBooks simply wouldn't run on Vista. So I went to the store to buy an upgrade. I carefully studied the feature lists on the boxes for the various versions, trying to figure out which one she needed. For $100 I got some version ("Express" or "Starter" or something like that). It had all the features she needed and was $100 cheaper than the next version.

    It

  • Dirty Little Secret (Score:3, Informative)

    by hwstar ( 35834 ) on Monday January 12, 2015 @07:52PM (#48798287)

    The governments of most advanced countries provide free on-line income tax preparation for thier taxpayers. Not so in 'Murica it where it is "monetized".
    There is quite a powerful American lobby (Intuit mostly) in place to keep things that way. This is perfect example of what happens when outfits such as faux news brainwash americans that no good can come from a government run program of any kind. The other advanced countries do not charge anything as they see it as something in thier best interest.

  • Maybe the tax software development department at Intuit got jealous of the Quicken software development department.

    Perhaps the tax folks saw the Quicken folks changing the colors in Quicken X++ and tweaking a few settings to make sure that online banking no longer worked for older releases and coming out with a new version every year with little work. Then they looked at the actual work (gasp!) they have to do every year to conform to new tax laws and decided to find some way to extract more money to keep u

  • I dumped Turbo Tax for a competitor when they used DRM at least a decade or more ago. I do my own taxes with TaxAct and have been using it since then. I am retired and have Social Security, some retirement income from a defined benefit plan that is still around and investment income. I could afford to hire a CPA or anyone else to do my taxes, but I don't want to. I use the process as an opportunity to review my investments and how they impact my taxes and make changes that benefit ME. As a retired eng
  • by CanadianMacFan ( 1900244 ) on Monday January 12, 2015 @09:09PM (#48798871)

    I've been using their tax software for years and haven't looked into their offering this year because I found an alternative that lets you pay what you want to, including nothing, after you have filed. It's at simpletax.ca in case anyone is interested. Now I just need to find an alternative for my company taxes.

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