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Private Tax Filing Firm Lobbying to Scrap Successful State Tax Preparation Services

Intuit, a private firm that manufactures TurboTax, has pushed California lawmakers to eliminate the popular, successful, and cost-effective public tax filing services, ReadyReturn and CalFile.  These two programs offer millions of low- and middle-income Californians a free and reliable method to calculate and file taxes.  They are also wildly popular - ReadyReturns's user satisfaction rate reaches above 98 percent. The state's Franchise Tax Board estimates that in total, ReadyReturn and CalFile save taxpayers between $4 million and $10 million in filing fees and reduces the state's processing and administrative costs by $500,000 a year.  Considering the depth of the state's fiscal and economic woes, these savings are sorely needed.

Intuit has spent over $1.25 million in the past five years on lobbying efforts to kill the programs and provided right-wing politicians with over $2 million in campaign support.  Their efforts have had a visible impact: conservative state lawmakers have withheld support for domestic violence shelter and police department funding in an attempt to force the elimination of the programs.

In their crusade against government and public structures, the anti-tax movement is joining the opposition to these types of tax preparation programs because a dependable, popular, and cost-effective government service does not suit their hackneyed and hollow messaging.

As Professor Dennis J. Ventry Jr. of the UC Davis School of Law notes, "[a]bolishing ReadyReturn and CalFile would hurt Californians. Intuit's alternative would cover fewer taxpayers and provide fewer services; it would cost individuals millions of dollars in preparation fees (much of which Intuit wants to pocket); and it would kill two programs that actually save the state money. It doesn't add up for anyone. Except Intuit."  Accordingly, this effort to eliminate a successful government program that saves money and assists millions of taxpayers follows the pattern of right-wing behavior at both the state and federal level -- placing the interests of large corporations and the very wealthy over middle class families and effective economic and fiscal policy.

Resources

California Budget Bites - Summer Doldrums Reveal Yet Another Threat to Ready Return
Progressive States Network - Right-wing Budget Hypocrisy: Taking Recovery Funds, Denouncing Deficits and Promoting Costly Tax Cuts
The Los Angeles Times - Intuit just won't quit