Woman talking(l+r), Turbotax app on phone(C)

Tada Images/Shutterstock @see_me_in_hindsight/Tiktok (Licensed)

‘Please don’t pay TurboTax’: Ex-IRS worker shares how to get your taxes filed for free

'Why can’t the government just send me a bill?'

 

Beau Paul

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Posted on Jan 31, 2024   Updated on Jan 31, 2024, 3:21 pm CST

The new year might feel like it just got here, but we’re already a whole month in, which means April is right around the corner, and the Taxman is on his way.

You’ve probably already been mailed a W2 or 1099 form and are beginning to get your documents in order before April 15 comes around again. But one TikToker is offering some free advice before you get down to filling out your 2023 tax return.

“If you can avoid using TurboTax to file your taxes, please do it,” TikToker and self-described “tech girlie” Jenni (@see_me_in_hindsight) begs her viewers. Her video has already been seen by over 1.6 million viewers and counting.

Jenni sets down her argument in an over five-minute video arguing that the widely used income tax prep software funds efforts to keep your return both complicated and pricey.

Jenni states in her video caption, “Don’t use #turbotax, one reason why our taxes remain complicated, and options to file for free!”

“I used to work for the IRS,” Jenni tells her viewers, “and I can tell you that TurboTax, Jackson Hewitt, H&R Block, they do not give a sh*t if you get audited.”

“If you have a complicated tax situation, you should be paying an accountant and a CPA preferably,” she continues, “someone who is authorized to sit in front of the IRS and represent you.” She adds that the audit insurance offered by many online tax prep programs is “useless.”

“Most people do not have super complicated taxes, and you can do them yourself,” she advises.

Jenni then lists free online options. She also provides several links to free tax services on her Linktree.

“There is a Free File option on the IRS website,” she advises. “They use what’s called free fillable forms, and that does mean you have to fill in the tax form, but truthfully, the tax form is not that complicated.”

Jenni also mentions the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, which is available for those making $60,000 or less in a tax year, as well as people with disabilities and the elderly. The service is at no cost.

As for TurboTax, Jenni adds that the company is “actively trying to make your taxes harder” with its lobbying efforts. According to the nonprofit watchdog group OpenSecrets.org, “TurboTax’s parent company spent more than $3.5 million on federal lobbying in 2022.”

@see_me_in_hindsight Long video – don’t use #turbotax, one reason why our taxes remain complicated, and options to file for free! #greenscreen #taxes #capitalism #taxcutsfortherich #lobbyingcorruption ♬ original sound – jenni

Intuit, TurboTax’s parent company, is specifically trying to undercut efforts to create a free federal tax filing service. Per OpenSecrets.org, “the Inflation Reduction Act passed in 2022 allotted $15 million to the Treasury Department for the IRS to explore the creation of a free federal tax filing service. Intuit claims the service ‘would be a waste of taxpayer money and a conflict of interest.'”

In a statement to Business Insider, Intuit claimed, “Creating a government-run tax preparation program would be a waste of taxpayer dollars and further disenfranchise low-income taxpayers.”

Tania Mercado, a representative for Intuit, told the Daily Dot in a statement, “Today, free tax preparation is available to 100% of American taxpayers. We are proud that over the last ten years more than 124 million people have filed their taxes completely free with Intuit TurboTax – more than all other tax prep companies combined.”

“Intuit does not lobby to make the tax code complicated. In fact, we work to encourage a simpler, fairer, more transparent tax code, Mercado added.

Some commenters noted that TurboTax does provide some free filing options, but others pointed out that those options could often be obfuscated by confusing offerings in the program.

“I’ve used TurboTax every year for like 10 years and have never paid for it,” Rachael (@mmissladyy) said.

However, another user countered, “I got tricked two years in a row to ‘upgrade’ my tax filing. They didn’t get an option to go back or change it.”

Another viewer added, “I didn’t even realize I had upgraded until 6 months later when they said I owed them money?”

The Daily Dot has reached out to Jenni via TikTok for further comment.

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*First Published: Jan 31, 2024, 4:00 pm CST