back to article Legal bombs fall on TurboTax maker Intuit for 'hiding' free service from search engines

Intuit, the biz behind America's most popular tax-filing software, was sued this week for seemingly hiding a free version of its product from search engines. The class-action lawsuit [PDF] from TurboTax users from across the United States was lodged in San Francisco, and joins one filed [PDF] last week by the Los Angeles City …

  1. vtcodger Silver badge

    Shocked ... Shocked ...

    I am shocked ... shocked ... to find that some capitalists are lying scumbags.

    If you are looking for links to free filing, try https://www.irs.gov/filing/free-file-do-your-federal-taxes-for-free The link is even in the instruction manual for US Federal Income Tax (albeit on Page 8) ... well, actually, it's not a link exactly ... but if you read it and it causes you to type "irs.gov free file" into google's search engine, you can get a link.

    My opinion: Any understanding that may have existed has been breached. The IRS should proceed to build a free tax filing site for all taxpayers. The politicians responsible for preventing the IRS from having already done this should resign and spend more time with their family. Sorry to inflict that on their families. But sacrifices must be made.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Shocked ... Shocked ...

      U.S. Capitalism - The insane belief that the nastiest of men for the nastiest of reasons will somehow work for the benefit of us all.

      1. My other car WAS an IAV Stryker

        Re: Shocked ... Shocked ...

        U.S. Capitalism - The insane belief that the nastiest of men people humans animals for the nastiest of reasons will somehow work for the benefit of us all.

        There; FTFY (and fixed it twice more when I still couldn't stop retching).

      2. JetSetJim Silver badge

        Re: Shocked ... Shocked ...

        > The insane belief that the nastiest of men for the nastiest of reasons will somehow work for the benefit of us all.

        "We stand behind our actions as being both appropriate and consistent with our values" - two not inconsistent statements...

        1. Vector

          Re: Shocked ... Shocked ...

          Well, consistent anyway...

    2. gnarlymarley

      Re: Shocked ... Shocked ...

      If you are looking for links to free filing, try https://www.irs.gov/filing/free-file-do-your-federal-taxes-for-free

      I have been filing for free (minus the cost of a stamp) for many years now. If the IRS wants me to stop filing on paper (where they have to type it into their computer for me), then they will offer a direct free replacement. I will not use alternate scammy companies to file for "free".

  2. jelabarre59 Silver badge

    Boot track

    I wouldn't have trusted TurboTax regardless, not after that debacle where their installer was writing DRM code to the computer's boot sector (and trashing various systems). And that is just what they got **CAUGHT** doing. Who knows what nasty work they've managed to cover up.

  3. ecofeco Silver badge

    Excellent

    Sue their ass off.

  4. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Not being an American

    Have I understood this right? In the USA citizens who wish to do their legal and moral duty and pay money to their government have to use a third party commercial company to do so. And unless they are poorly paid have to pay these companies for the privilege. So, isn't that a kind of private tax? Or robbery?

    1. Alister Silver badge

      Re: Not being an American

      In case you missed it, this is being introduced in the UK too.

      https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/making-tax-digital/overview-of-making-tax-digital

      Quote:

      VAT-registered businesses with a taxable turnover above the VAT threshold are now required to use the Making Tax Digital service to keep records digitally and use software to submit their VAT returns for VAT periods that started on or after 1 April 2019.

      1. Anomalous Cowturd
        WTF?

        Re: being introduced in the UK

        I don't remember voting for that. Does anyone else?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I don't remember voting for that

          don't be silly, voting is not about finding out which party is going to fuck you harder, it's about MAKE NHS GRATE AGAIN! DEFEAT THE TERRORISM! FAMILY VALUES! NO ONLINE FILTH! CLEAN AIR! MORE MONEY FOR EVERYONE! etc. You've cast your vote so now keep your mouth shut (SMILE! YOU'RE ON A FACE RECOGNITION SYSTEM!), and enjoy the "opportunities" of participating in a gig economy.

        2. phuzz Silver badge

          Re: being introduced in the UK

          You don't vote for laws in the UK, you vote for an MP who you hope will go to parliament and vote in the way that you want, same as most other democracies.

          Otherwise every single attempt to change a law would end up turning into a brexit, and nothing would ever get done.

          (If you actually do care and you're not just trolling, you could go through the policy consultations and see who HMRC actually did ask about this.)

          1. Vector
            Headmaster

            Re: being introduced in the UK

            ...you vote for an MP who you hope will go to parliament and vote in the way that you want,same as most other democracies.

            That's actually not a democracy, that's a Republic. Which is what most "democracies" actually are.

            Wikipedia entry on Republics

            1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge
              Boffin

              Re: being introduced in the UK

              Actually, the UK is a constitutional monarchy, not a republic. In case you hadn't noticed them, we still have a royal family for some reason.

              The third sentence in that wiki article you linked contradicts you...

              1. Vector

                Re: being introduced in the UK

                Point taken and conceded.

                Sorry, I live over here in the Republic of Murka. Our educashun sistem ain't so grate.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Making Tax Digital

        Surely there is a Legal obligation in the UK to provide this 'service' without inserting a Third Party Vendor intercepting your business's private data and/or charging you for such a service ?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Making Tax Digital

          Unfortunately not. We pay several hundred a year to commercial third parties just to fulfil our legal obligation to the tax man, and we can only claim a percentage back (the 'tax' on it). We've also fallen foul of idiotic errors in the commcerial applications that have resulted in disputes with the tax man.

          It's about time the need to fork out to comply with the law was abolished. The tax office should provide its own software free of charge and take responsibility for it being adequate to generate correct results.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Making Tax Digital

            ...and I bet there's a clause in the user agreement for your paid-for tax software that says it's your responsibility to check the results are accurate and you can't make a claim against them if it gets it wrong and you end up out on pocket paying penalties to HMRC.

      3. Warm Braw Silver badge

        Re: Not being an American

        this is being introduced in the UK too

        I haven't been VAT-registered since paper returns were the only option. However, I gather that HMRC subsequently introduced what was effectively just a web form replica of the VAT 100 you could fill in online, eliminating the need to post and then scan a piece of paper. This seems like the proportionate way to deal with a request for a maximum of nine numbers. I understand, though, that the web form is being/has been withdrawn and traders will be obliged to have software that takes those same nine numbers and wraps them up in a prescribed format for delivery to the government's API. That would seem just to be "making tax unnecessarily complicated".

        Combined with the changes to the way self-employed tax now works, I certainly wouldn't bother to start a small business in the UK these days. It would be a lot easier being a "micro entrepreneur" in

        France, no doubt thanks to the onerous EU bureaucracy from which we are about to be unburdened.

        1. JetSetJim Silver badge
          Big Brother

          Re: Not being an American

          > I understand, though, that the web form is being/has been withdrawn and traders will be obliged to have software that takes those same nine numbers and wraps them up in a prescribed format for delivery to the government's API. That would seem just to be "making tax unnecessarily complicated".

          Indeedy - the API just fires JSON at HMRC with 9 numbers in it (after suitable(?) authentication has happened). However, it makes it easy for them to extend the VAT return to "please upload all your VATable transactions so we can tell you what you owe", and thus collate a huge database of all VAT transactions. possibly making it easier to detect carousel fraud, but I wonder what else data-mining could achieve with such a data set....

      4. JulieM Silver badge

        Re: Not being an American

        The UK government has published the API for submitting tax filings, so any competent programmer can write their own software -- and / or release it as Open Source. You aren't being forced to use proprietary third-party software.

        1. matt 83

          Re: Not being an American

          Except you need to apply to them for an API key to run your software so you can't just write your own and you can't have open source software to do it for you.

          1. JulieM Silver badge

            Re: Not being an American

            You can release the Source Code; but every user will have to obtain their own API key, which would then be stored in a configuration file.

    2. Jim Mitchell

      Re: Not being an American

      There is no obligation or requirement to use the commercial tax preparation software for either Federal or State income taxes. Intuit and H&R Block greatly regret this and actively work to make paying them look like a good idea.

      I *do* use H&R Block tax software to prepare my taxes. However, I sure don't pay close to the numbers quoted in the article, via wise shopping, experience, and knowledge of how things work.

      The folks who don't know what they are doing are vulnerable to these predatory companies, and that is the way they want to keep it.

    3. vtcodger Silver badge

      Re: Not being an American

      "Have I understood this right? In the USA citizens who wish to do their legal and moral duty and pay money to their government have to use a third party commercial company to do so."

      No, it's not that bad. Even in the US, you can download the forms, print them out, and mail them with a check or money order. You may still be able to get blank forms at libraries. The forms are PDFs. Some at least are "fillable PDFs" and maybe by now those actually work in some PDF readers. Personally, I downloaded the forms, converted them to jpgs, used an emacs org mode table to compute the taxes, and filled them out using image magick to overprint the values onto the forms.

      1. nematoad Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Not being an American

        "...used an emacs org mode table to compute the taxes, and filled them out using image magick to overprint the values onto the forms."

        Of course! Why doesn't everyone do that?

        Or are you just showing off?

    4. vir

      Re: Not being an American

      If you don't have a complex investment portfolio or some other strange financial situation, filling out your taxes is usually a fairly simple affair; it takes me about 30 minutes to do my state and federal taxes. You get a form from your employer(s) that states how much you got paid and how much was withheld as taxes. You put that into another form, look up how much you should have paid from a table, and the difference is how much you owe or are due as a refund. You can either mail that form in or file it electronically with the government for free. The tax prep software is unnecessary for a lot of people but where it's useful is in the aforementioned strange financial situation because it can reduce the impenetrable wording of the government tax forms into a string of easy to answer questions.

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: Not being an American

        Unfortunately, situations can be a lot more complex than they need to be. A "complex investment portfolio" can at times be created merely by having retirement accounts, even if there are no investments after that point. This differs greatly upon which country's tax regime is being considered, but you don't need to be super-rich, have created some complex set of accounts, or done something all that out-of-the-ordinary for the tax forms to become a lot less straightforward.

      2. LDS Silver badge

        Re: Not being an American

        Here now if you are an employee you get a pre-filled web form with employer(s) payments data, known healthcare deductions, and other data already inserted in the previous years. You need to fill missing data only - if any - and submit it.

        If you don't fall into the categories that can use that, at least you can get the tax agency applications (a web one and a offline Java one) to fill the required forms and then file them electronically - for any amount. They may be less friendly than a commercial application, sure, but if your needs aren't very complex and you need to file a single declaration, they are fully usable.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not being an American

        "... filling out your taxes is usually a fairly simple affair..."

        Nope. In addition to employment income, I have two mutual funds, a bank account that pays interest, charitable contributions, mortgage interest, and auto tax (which is deductible) on 2 cars. That's 7 more forms to enter. And that's what I can think of off the top of my head. None of that is at all unusual, but makes paying taxes WITH a tax prep service a couple-hours affair. I tried doing it by hand once recently, and gave up after a couple hours.

        1. vir

          Re: Not being an American

          I should have been more clear and said that the people who would benefit from the free filing service are likely to have simple taxes. If someone is making less than $34,000 a year, they probably don't have two mutual funds, a bank account that pays interest, charitable contributions, mortgage interest, or two cars, and other things they can't even think of right now.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Not being an American

            Note that the article says "typically $66,000 a year" and "70 per cent of Americans are eligible to file their taxes for free". In other words, nearly 3/4 of the US. No mutual fund I can understand, but an interest-bearing bank account, charitable contributions, and a car would be normal, and possibly a mortgage.

            1. JohnFen Silver badge

              Re: Not being an American

              "interest-bearing bank account, charitable contributions, and a car would be normal, and possibly a mortgage."

              Interest-bearing bank accounts are less common than ones that don't pay interest, most people can't afford to make charitable donation in amounts that would really matter to their tax bill, and most people rent, so they don't have a mortgage.

              Car loans are a bit more common, but even then, they usually aren't that large -- most car loans are for relatively inexpensive used cars.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Not being an American

                Savings accounts aren't common? And my checking account gives a little interest, though not much. Those are considered income and therefore have an associated tax form.

                Based on a quick Google search, looks like 60-70% of American households are homeowners rather than renters, and most of those will have a mortgage and thus a deduction for mortgage interest.

                Charitable donations - depends on your definition of "would really matter". If you're paying 20% in taxes, then $200 in donations (whether cash or goods) would reduce your tax bill by $40.

                The car deduction I was referring to was for paying local, county, and state taxes on the vehicle, rather than car loan interest, which is only deductible if it's a business expense.

                1. JohnFen Silver badge

                  Re: Not being an American

                  "Savings accounts aren't common?"

                  I'm actually not sure now. In my personal experience, interest-paying savings accounts aren't common for the lower economic classes, which constitute most households. But my personal experience is not statistically significant. I couldn't find any actual statistics on what percentage of US citizens have interest-paying savings accounts, only about the amount of money they save saved (which is a different thing) -- but that amount is less than $1000 for 57% of the population.

                  You're right about home ownership, thanks for correcting me.

                  "If you're paying 20% in taxes"

                  Sure, but the average income tax people are paying as a percentage of their income is 13.5%. If you're paying 20% of your income in income taxes, then you are making well above what most people are making -- and I'd argue that $40 is nearly a rounding error at that income level.

                  "The car deduction I was referring to was for paying local, county, and state taxes on the vehicle"

                  That would be even less, then.

                  My essential point is that most Americans don't have complicated taxes, and have no need to itemize. That's why the 1040EZ is good enough for the average case and there is no need for professional assistance. People who have more complicated tax situations are different, of course, and that's not a small number of people -- but it isn't the majority.

                2. JulieM Silver badge

                  Re: Not being an American

                  That's more of a problem with the way your taxes are collected. In the UK, the government prefer to deduct taxes at source wherever possible. Prices advertised to consumers have to include VAT (sales tax). If you work for an employer, they are responsible for your income tax; and if you have a bank account, the bank have to take care of the tax on any interest due to you. Things like competition and lottery winnings are not taxable, tax being levied instead on the entry fees out of which the prizes are going to be paid.

        2. JohnFen Silver badge

          Re: Not being an American

          "None of that is at all unusual"

          I suspect that it's more unusual than you think. Most US citizens don't have all that stuff. The 1040EZ covers a rather large percentage of the population.

      4. Kimo

        Re: Not being an American

        The most audited returns are those claiming the Earned Income Credit, a program set up to help keep the working poor less dependent on other forms of assistance. And the people who are claiming the credit also tend to have less education and experience with this type of paperwork. So tax software can help people to navigate their filing and keep it safe in case of an audit. There are low income people who absolutely need it.

    5. Oliver Mayes

      Re: Not being an American

      They don't have to use a third party, it's just complicated and arduous to work it all out on your own so the majority of people either hire an accountant to do theirs or use these software options instead.

    6. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Not being an American

      "In the USA citizens who wish to do their legal and moral duty and pay money to their government have to use a third party commercial company to do so."

      Not exactly. You can file at no charge by filling out and mailing in the physical forms. If you want to do it electronically, however, then you're thrown to the wolves.

  5. Mark 85 Silver badge

    "We stand behind our actions as being both appropriate and consistent with our values," the tax biz told The Register.

    Well, the "our values" it and will get them off the hook, right? As long as their values don't interfere with generating profit, that is.

    1. VikiAi Silver badge
      Unhappy

      "Our values" just happens to be those of the average 17th century Robber Barron. But they are 'values', all the same.

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        I believe their values are the same as those of Crom:

        (with best Arnie impression)

        To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women

  6. wayne 8

    "inputted"

    How about they "entered" their data.

    Data Entry is the act of entering data into a computer.

  7. goldcd

    Sorry - did I miss something?

    This seems to be getting a little bit silly - seems entirely fair that a company can ask not to have pages they don't want indexed... not indexed.

    Would we want to reverse this?

    Now if those pages existed due to a government requirement they existed, well then the government should point the right people to them.

    I hate stuff like this where "I loathe both sides" - but in this case one side did something sensible and one side didn't.

    1. Cxwf

      Re: Sorry - did I miss something?

      <quote>Now if those pages existed due to a government requirement they existed, well then the government should point the right people to them.</quote>

      That is why they exist (technically an agreement with the irs rather than a legislative requirement, but close enough for this purpose), and the government does link to them. The trick is, the government link is typically the ONLY link that gets you there, and the companies go to great lengths to avoid letting you see those pages any other way.

      You could argue about exactly how clever you would need to be to see through the manipulation and get the promised free version- but why use hypotheticals when we already have data results? Of the people eligible for the free filing, about 95% didn’t find it. That’s a problem.

    2. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: Sorry - did I miss something?

      "Sorry - did I miss something?"

      Yes, you apparently did. If you have a free option, as a result of an agreement with the IRS, and then try your best to hide it while manipulating people into spending hours filling in information when they think they are on the free site, only to turn around and try to charge them for the exact same service they should be able to obtain for free, then that is sharp practice at best and should be an offence if it isn't already.

      Deceiving people into either wasting their time or spending money with you is called a con. And it makes these companies con men.

      "one side did something sensible"

      What? Do you think finding low-income vulnerable people and deliberately ripping them off is sensible? I mean, it is if you are a psychopath, but whatever.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A lot of commies in here

    Why is free tax filing software suddenly a God-given right? If you have a trivial tax situation, just fill out the paper form. Done. If you want a fancy program to help you navigate the government forms, why should anyone have to supply that to you free of charge? Why should taxpayers subsidize your desire to use computer software to file your taxes? Why should private companies be compelled to provide you with free software?

    The dirty truth is that most people should not be filing their own taxes. They are not competent to do it. Using a software program to guide you is only marginally better. Leave it to the professionals unless you are one.

    1. redpawn Silver badge

      Re: A lot of commies in here

      Only because the deal was to stop the government from having their own free version. This help filing would crimp the income flow to the uber patriots who make money from software to "help" you file. Nothing more patriotic than ripping off tax payers paying their taxes with bait and switch.

      I helped my son file for free and it was difficult not to fall into the myriad pay for extra service traps. The software advised you that you would be better off using the pay version when income was only a few thousand dollars and dead simple. Worse than free antivirus to get the product promised.

    2. Edwin

      Re: A lot of commies in here

      Says a lot about either your tax system or your populace if most people aren't competent to file their own taxes...

      I've lived in a couple of countries where the guvmint published its own tax software (or filing website). Quick and painless and free for everyone.

      Requiring commercial parties to help people pay their taxes is not compatible with good government (e.g. ensuring the public understands the laws that apply to them)

      1. Alister Silver badge

        Re: A lot of commies in here

        Requiring commercial parties to help people pay their taxes is not compatible with good government (e.g. ensuring the public understands the laws that apply to them)

        You wouldn't like to talk to our HMRC would you, they seem to think it's a good idea...

      2. stiine Bronze badge
        Holmes

        Re: A lot of commies in here

        The image says it all...

      3. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        Re: A lot of commies in here

        I think someone recently explained that the private tax companies' pet legislators were instructed to prevent attempts to simplify the tax laws into something that an ordinary person can deal with. It being complicated is a big part of how the tax software people make their money.

    3. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

      Re: A lot of commies in here

      Better yet, have a system that automatically collects the tax from your pay as you earn it, handled by your employer utilising a standardised tax code for your personal situation... Let's call it something like PAYE or Pay As You Earn...

      Those of a more complex nature can employ software or accountants to manage their tax affairs and the rest of us can just get on with earning a living.

      Or is not letting take a crack at getting it wrong and having others skim off the top a better way somehow?

    4. LDS Silver badge

      Re: A lot of commies in here

      A communist government will get all the money it wants from you even before you see them, and then send you your tax declaration filled for you.

      And oligarchic government treats citizens as serfs and looks for new ways to let oligarchs to extract more money from them.

      A democratic government make the easier it can for citizens to perform the required duties - including using tax payers money to deliver whatever tool is needed for that - including software.

      Next what? Barring the state education system to run schools?

    5. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: A lot of commies in here

      "Why is free tax filing software suddenly a God-given right?"

      Why is the ability to extract taxes from the populace a God-given right? It isn't, but part of the social contract is that you shouldn't go around forcing the poor to pay money to rich bastard companies in order to fulfil their legal obligations. When you remember that these companies spend significant amounts of money to influence laws specifically to make it difficult to do your own taxes, it becomes clear that they are so far in the wrong it's brutally obvious. Well, unless you are so kind of weird corporatist who thinks unchecked power for the rich is a good thing. (Libertarians generally do not think that, as they tend to at least believe in a rules-based system.)

      And this is particularly telling:

      "The dirty truth is that most people should not be filing their own taxes."

      Most people should be, and the system should be set up in such a way that that is possible. And is, in sane countries.

    6. Lennart Sorensen

      Re: A lot of commies in here

      Why is the US tax system so complicated? In Canada doing it on paper for most people should take less than half an hour. Doing it with software is perhaps a 5 minute job (and the software to handle an entire family is like $20 (Canadian) so vastly cheaper than the US rip offs, although the same software will do it for free if you make less than a certain amount too, are a senior, etc). I used to do it on paper, but all that writing the same numbers on multiple pages and punching the numbers into a calculator gets annoying, and with the software you can even download the contents of most of the forms from the government too (after all they already have the data in most cases), making you have to enter very little at all. I think it took me 15 minutes to do a family of 4 (I was verifying that it had done it all right).

      Of course the same tax software companies are lobbying to make sure the tax system isn't made sane and simple enough in the US for people to just do it trivially. They don't want to loose their lucrative business after all.

      Seems the US tax system is like the US election system. Too complex, too incomprehensible, ineffective and has lots of companies trying to make money of it while claiming they are helping. Canada does elections on paper, can have results counted in a few hours, can do recounts when needed in a few more hours, and are verifiable. It is just so much simpler and it works. Of course it helps to not make people have to vote for hundreds of things at the same time (and really, why do you even get to vote for judges and sheriffs and who knows what anyhow?)

  9. DCFusor Silver badge

    From 18 days ago when this first was mentioned here:

    This got a lot of upvotes awhile back:

    Don't confuse what we have with Capitalism. Was the soviet union communist, or totalitarian, using communism as a cover story?

    ////// original comment

    Used it this year

    Awhile back, already got my refund - and then changed my withholding so there won't be another. (retired, fixed income). Turbo tax.

    My bank gave a link to the "free" stuff. Yeah...they of course knew all my numbers from last year, but of course flung me from page to page endlessly to verify nothing changed...and at every turn, was one accidental click away from "let's just pay for this" instead of my typing it in and re-looking up the death date of a parent (long ago, and I don't remember birthdays either) and endless other details.

    And this was the really "free" version, which my bank was kind enough to provide the link for (and authorization to check the doggone numbers yet again).

    The tax filer companies are ignorant MBAs, and use "dark patterns" to get you into the pay-for zero added value crap. If they let the government provide the free service, we all know from copious experience that it would stink so badly we'd gladly pay to get it done, they obviously already have all the numbers and can do it right, but they evidently don't teach those MBA's the obvious. What a bunch of..."can't print this, do duh duh duh".

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't be alarmed that you have to pay the state to file your taxes that you have to pay the state, citizen. Well, do be alarmed because that would be repressive and absurdist no you have to pay one of the state's approved tax-filing partners or rather select one because the deduction has already been made from your social credit score oh you pay with that now everyone has one it's so great to get rid of antiquated stuff like money <3

    1. JohnFen Silver badge

      "Don't be alarmed that you have to pay the state to file your taxes that you have to pay the state, citizen."

      it would be less awful to me if I did have to pay the state for this. Having to pay a private entity to do it just amps the awfulness up.

  11. stuartnz

    Oh what a tangled web we weave...

    when we thirst, your taxes to receive.

    Happily, up here in Aotearoa/NZ, the IRD (whose Māori name is the WONDERFULLY apt Te Tari Taake!) makes filing an absolute doddle. I did mine at 02:30 this morning after a night shift, and was finished in barely half the 60 minutes the website urged me to allow. For those who only income is from wages/salary, the process is now entirely automatic - PAYE taxpayers don't have to file at all, refunds are automatically paid into their nominated account. All of this at no (additional) charge. ("additional" since the service is funded by, well, taxes)

  12. Cheshire Cat
    Flame

    They aren't *always* lying

    "We stand behind our actions as being [...] consistent with our values"

    Yes, this looks 100% true. Underhand tricks, misleading customers and outright lies seem to certainly be consistent with their values.

  13. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

    Dear USians

    Your country is slowly fucking itself to death. I respectfully* request that you revoke your independence and let our government ruin you instead.

    *not really.

    1. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: Dear USians

      " let our government ruin you instead."

      Is that intended or a Freudian slip?

      1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

        Re: Dear USians

        Very much intended. The absolute fucking shambles that is Brexit makes it difficult to claim the high ground here, no matter which side of the debate you're on.

    2. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Dear USians

      Every so often, I do see a "Let's give ourselves back to England" bumper sticker.

  14. Chris the bean counter

    Consistent with our values

    Kudos for their PR for sneaking that one in.

    1. A.P. Veening

      Re: Consistent with our values

      Just a standard template, kudos to the PR genius that originally came up with it, but not to copy cats.

  15. Swarthy Silver badge
    Coffee/keyboard

    Oh, the Irony!

    I love it! The effort of attempting to lock in the con (when there was little/no effort to break it) is what may ultimately break the con.

    They lobbied to get a law passed to forbid the IRS from making their own free software, which draws attention to the FFA. People then realize that the FFA is a thing, and that they shouldn't have had to pay for filing. Knowing that they have been paying, they look to find where the free option is, and find that it was deliberately hidden (Not even a "Beware the Leopard" sign). So they sue. And now the IRS is looking at kiboshing the "gentlemans' agreement" that precluded them creating their own software.

    If the beancounters hadn't tried to force the issue, people would probably never have realized the con.

    (El Reg, can we get a "Point and Laugh icon?)

  16. JohnFen Silver badge

    Lawsuits are well and good

    But what really needs to happen is to stop using the private sector to implement this program.

  17. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

    Tremendously disappointed

    What, no "Super Cali tax refusniks' lawsuits now approach us"?

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