Thursday, January 22, 2009

TurboTax Told Me I Could Get Away With It.

Timothy Geithner, President Obama's choice to run the U.S. Treasury and spearhead America's recovery from its financial crisis, is well on his way to being confirmed after the Senate Finance Committee voted 18-5 Thursday to forward his nomination to the full Senate.

But the endorsement came only after he underwent embarrassing scrutiny for his failure to pay all of his income taxes in 2001 and 2002 -- a mistake he blamed on, TurboTax, an easy-to-use computer income tax program used by 18 million taxpayers a year.

Geithner said he used TurboTax to complete his income tax forms in those two years, and he failed to include self-employment taxes in his federal returns.

He said that, to his recollection, the program did not prompt him to report income and pay self-employment taxes.

"I mistakenly believed that I was meeting my obligations fully, including self-employment taxes, but I did not prepare my returns in a way that caught that mistake initially," Geithner told the committee, adding, "these are my responsibility, not the tax software responsibility."

But TurboTax says the program is designed for average taxpayers and prompts everyone to report any additional income or wages earned through self-employment.

"The way TurboTax works, we ask you your personal information up front" and "walk you down an interview path that asks you the source of your income," said Scott Gulbransen, a spokesman for TurboTax. Even if you fill out a W2 tax form from a primary employer, "once you're done with that it will ask you if you had other sources of income," he told

"The whole idea of TurboTax is to make sure we have all your information," Gulbransen said.

Intuit, the company that makes the software, estimates that its customers receive tax returns in the hundreds of millions of dollars every year, he said.

"There's a lot of time that's put in to make sure that the product is easy to use for the average American," Gulbransen said. "The numbers speak for themselves."

The tax program -- now in its 25th year -- is retooled annually, he said.

"Because the tax laws change every single year, the code, we -- in essence after every tax season -- have to recreate the product from the ground up as far as tax code goes," Gulbransen said. "So from that perspective, we update it every year for not only the federal taxes, but also for each individual state that has income tax."

Dan Maurer, a senior vice president of TurboTax, issued a statement Wednesday saying user input is key.

"TurboTax, and all software and in-person tax preparation services, base their calculations on the information users provide when completing their returns. TurboTax also has built-in error-checking tools that routinely catch common taxpayer mistakes.

"Federal law and our own privacy policy prohibit us from discussing specifics of any customer's return," Maurer said.


ichbinalj said...

loonyleft said : In the Washington swamp, having a tax cheat like d-crat Rangle head the House Ways & Means Tax Panel is probably considered normal and acceptable politics-as-usual. Rangle's motto is : "You pay taxes so I don't have to." Now that d-crat slimebag will be joined by yet another tax-cheat who will head the entire Treasury Dept. It's bad enough that the d-crats waste trillions of taxpayer money on useless bailouts and other garbage. It adds insult to injury to have them hand over responsible finance positions to such tax criminals. Now that the d-crats have essentially confirmed tax-cheat geithner to join tax-cheat rangle in taxing honest Americans, will everybody be able to get the "Geithner Loophole" and avoid paying $34,000 in taxes until their criminal behavior (aka "innocent mistake" to the loony-left) is exposed by the media?

Tony333 said...
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