Ex-IRS Worker Warns TurboTax Is "Trying to Make Your Taxes Harder"

The former employee also gives suggestions for free ways you can file this year.

Even though putting your tax filing together is something we all do every year, it's not uncommon to turn to a program like TurboTax for some help with the process. The popular software markets itself as the solution to simplifying forms and ensuring you include every bit of necessary information. But while it may have become the household name in preparation aids, one ex-IRS worker now warns that TurboTax is actually "trying to make your taxes harder" and might not be the best option for your needs.

RELATED: IRS Warns 20% of Taxpayers Don't Claim Major Refund Credit—Are You Eligible?

In a recent post, TikTok user @see_me_in_hindsight explains that she used to work for the tax agency as an employee in the tax compliance division before moving to the IT department, adding she has also "spent time on the other side" overseeing tax audits. She begins the video—which has now been viewed over 1.7 million times—by pointing out a 2019 article about TurboTax saying they and other companies "have been lobbying for over 20 years to make your taxes complicated and to make sure you can't file for free—or making it harder for you to file for free."

The user—who lists her name as Jenni—alleges that the tax software company has actively worked to keep the filing process complicated. However, she maintains that despite the added hassle, most people likely still don't need help to do things the right way.

"If you can avoid using TurboTax to file your taxes, please do it," she advises viewers. "Most of us on this app probably have pretty easy taxes. You work for an employer, you might have a side hustle, you might own a house. Most people do not have super complicated taxes, and you can do them yourself."

However, if you find yourself in a position where your filing is less clear-cut, you might still want to seek a little outside professional help. "If you have a complicated tax situation, you should be paying an accountant—and a CPA preferably—someone who is authorized to sit in front of the IRS and represent you," she suggests. "You can even look those people up on the IRS website."

In a statement to the Daily Dot, Tania Mercado, a representative for TurboTax's parent company Intuit, pushed back against the allegations. "Intuit does not lobby to make the tax code complicated. In fact, we work to encourage a simpler, fairer, more transparent tax code," they said.

Ultimately, Jenni says that instead of opting for a paid option, plenty of appropriate free services are available to the public. Read on to see which tools she and other experts suggest instead of paying for TurboTax.

1
IRS Free File

Close up of a person holding receipts and their phone while filing their taxes using a laptop and calculator
Khanchit Khirisutchalual/iStock

One of the first recommendations Jenni makes during the video is for a recent IRS addition that doesn't cost taxpayers who qualify anything.

"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."

However, not everyone filing can use the service right away. The agency specifies that eligibility will be limited to "taxpayers with relatively simple returns," targeting those with specific income, credits, and deductions, according to a press release from the agency from Oct. 17, 2023. It will also be limited to taxpayers in 13 states for now.

RELATED: IRS Warns That Claiming These Credits Can Get You Audited and Fined.

2
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)

Two retirees talk to a tax consultant in a well lit room.
Studio Romantic / Shutterstock

If you're looking for more free help with your taxes, Jenni adds that one option specifically suited to those with lower incomes is Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA). She says the organization's local tax clinics use professionals to help taxpayers fill out forms.

"It is a no-cost service," she says. "I used to volunteer with the VITA program and help people fill out their taxes because I worked at the IRS."

RELATED: 6 Tax Filing Tips for Retirees, According to Finance Experts.

3
Freetax USA

Man and woman working on taxes with laptop
iStock

In addition to the options mentioned in the video, other experts say there are plenty of worthwhile free filing options. One includes FreeTaxUSA, which can help get your information in order without paying a cent.

"FreeTaxUSA is a great software that offers free federal tax return filing services for individuals," Levon L. Galstyan, a certified public accountant at Oak View Law Group in California, previously told Best Life. "It offers step-by-step guidance, error-checking, and easy-to-use forms to help users file their tax returns. And if you do end up needing more, it also provides various paid options for more complex financial situations."

4
Cash App Taxes

tax forms, calculator, pen, and glasses on laptop
RomanR / Shutterstock

While many apps may claim to be free to use, only a handful can come through on that promise. And according to Robert Farrington, founder and CEO of The College Investor, Cash App Taxes is one that won't end up charging you once it comes time to file.

"It allows you to file federal and state returns for free," he previously told Best Life. "But it is limited in some areas, such as not allowing multiple states."

Best Life offers the most up-to-date financial information from top experts and the latest news and research, but our content is not meant to be a substitute for professional guidance. When it comes to the money you're spending, saving, or investing, always consult your financial advisor directly.

Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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