In the weeks leading up to tax day, you may have seen one of TurboTax's many amusing ads for its "free" income tax filing product. Quite humorously, the dialogue is nothing but the word "Free," so you get the point, ha ha -- if you meet certain qualifications, you can file your taxes for FREE. Of course, in practice, those troublemaking busybodies at ProPublica explain, actually getting to the completely free tax filing site is made very tricky by Intuit, the publishers of TurboTax software. For instance, if, like some idiot, you saw the ad and went straight to, it's very difficult for lots of taxpayers to actually find the free product, because Intuit's website is designed to steer them toward versions that require payment.

Anyone who makes under $66,000 a year should be able to file their taxes online for free. All you need to do is find the right online tax preparation company and meet whatever conditions the company might impose on customers wanting to file for free. And that's where the fuckery starts! For instance, if you're naive enough to click on the first thing that comes up in search results, you're fixing to be plucked. Tell us, troublemaking busybodies!

Our first stop was Google. We searched for "irs free file taxes."
And we thought we found what we were looking for: Ads from TurboTax and others directing us to free products.
(image by ProPublica)

As ProPublica notes, that very first ad says "free" five times, so it sure must be free, huh? (Spoiler alert: Nope, the ads suck, you really want the fifth item on the list, to But at Intuit's site, you definitely get more "free" verbiage, complete with a smiley lady who enjoys her free tax filing!

Image by Wonkette. Bet you could tell!

But then, once the reporters started a fake profile and going through the tax prep steps for a "house cleaner who took in $29,000," things got un-free very quickly.

We entered extensive personal information. TurboTax asked us to click through more than a dozen questions and prompts about our finances.

After all of that, only then did we get the bad news: TurboTax revealed this wasn't going to be free at all. Turns out the house cleaner didn't qualify because he is a independent contractor. The charge? $119.99.

So they backed out and tried again, this time with a new fake taxpayer,

a Walgreens cashier without health insurance, entering personal information and giving the company lots of sensitive data.

Again, TurboTax told us we had to pay — this time because there's an extra form if you don't have insurance. The charge? $59.99.

Haha, you fool! You can only file for free with TurboTax if you have a very simple tax situation, you dope. At least, from the home page -- Intuit will charge you for any exceptions, because the site is coded to steer people to the upsells.

While suckers may be born every minute, the real money goes to clever companies who figure out how to exploit those suckers:

[If] you start the process from, it's impossible to find the truly free version. The company itself admits this.
Propublica image

Now, there really IS an edition of TurboTax that lets any damn fool with income under $34,000 file for free, but to find it, you have to know it's called "TurboTax Freedom," and if you google THAT, you can find it. Why yes, that's a much lower income than the $66,000 maximum allowed under the IRS's free file program, because the tax prep companies get to set their own rules for which types of returns they'll process for free service. Intuit seems to be especially aggressive in such restrictions; Yr Dok Zoom uses another outfit that really is free, so it's mostly a matter of finding one that fits your situation through the IRS Free File website.

And even once you get there, the TurboTax "free" site STILL lets you click on a link that'll send you off to the pay version. Isn't that cute?

As ProPublica explains, none of this is an accident. Thanks to lots and lots of lobbying, Congress has largely done whatever the tax prep companies have asked it to when it comes to the Free File program. The House recently passed the misleadingly titled "Taxpayer First Act," which would enshrine the Free File program in law and actually prohibit the IRS from ever developing its own truly free online tax software. If the bill passes the Senate and Donald Trump signs it, taxpayers wanting free online services will have to use for-profit companies where they can be targeted for paid "upgrades."

It doesn't have to be this way -- in 2016, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders cosponsored a bill that would have mandated the IRS estimate people's simple returns for them automatically, since it already has our wage information anyway. Taxpayers could then either sign off on the IRS calculation or have the option of using free, IRS-developed software to pay their taxes. For-profit outfits would no longer be the default option. You can see why that went nowhere!

The tax prep industry likes to tout the fact that anyone with income under $66,000 can file for free, but makes far less noise about the percentage of those who actually do manage to: only about 1.6 percent. It doesn't help that the IRS budget for promoting Free File is exactly ZERO.

Here, have a listen to an "On the Media" interview with UC Davis tax scholar Dennis Ventry, who wrote an influential op-ed that effectively stopped the "Taxpayer First Act" in the Senate last year. You may want to make sure you don't have a tax attorney to hurl across the room.

[ProPublica / The Hill / WNYC]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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Once upon a time... about ten years ago, a group of entirely ridiculous men burst onto the scene wearing stupid hats and telling men that wearing stupid hats and telling men that walking up to women in bars and insulting ("negging") them would get them laid. This did not last long, as women also had televisions and computers and were completely aware of these tricks as well, so when some ass came up to us in a bar and said "Hey, nice nails, are they real?" we would laugh and laugh and loudly announce "Oh my god, this guy just tried to neg me! Can you believe that shit? HEY EVERYONE, THIS GUY JUST TRIED TO NEG ME!" and then refer to him as "Mystery" the whole night.

Most of the men who tried that shit only did so a few times before realizing that it wasn't going to work, and thus moved on to other things. Perhaps things that did not involve furry hats and coming off as a huge creep. We may never know, because I would assume that those who tried it are now extremely embarrassed and would never, ever admit to this to us.

Still, there were a few men willing to eat that shit up, as well as some grifters willing to take advantage of that. Said grifters tended to be extremely misogynistic and seemed more like they were teaching men how to be as despised by women as they were than teaching them how to actually be liked by women.

Some of them, like Roosh V, a creepy weirdo who actually does live in his mom's basement, actively encouraged men to rape women who were intoxicated to the point of being obviously unable to consent.

However, even that branch of the PUA tree is wilting away. Many "self-help" style PUA forums like Nextasf and RSDnation are shutting down or have already shut down. In March, Chateau Heartiste, a batshit crazy PUA turned White Nationalist/Alt-Right blog was shut down by Wordpress. This week, rape advocate Roosh V (whom you may recall once called yours truly a "Wonkette typist/clown face, would not bang") announced that he was renouncing his PUA ways and devoting himself to Jesus. He explained to the forum he manages that he would no longer be allowing anyone to discuss premarital "fornication."

Keep reading... Show less
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'Baby Geniuses' star Jon Voight took to Twitter early this morning to proclaim his undying love for Donald Trump, probably because there is no one left in his life who will listen to him talk about this, or anything else, in person. In this video rant, Voight encouraged members of the Republican Party, whom he apparently thinks are the only real citizens of the United States, to stand by Donald Trump and "acknowledge the truth" that he is the best President since Abraham Lincoln.

Part ONE:

People of the Republican Party, I know you will agree with me when I say our president has our utmost respect and our love. This job is not easy. For he's battling the left and their absurd words of destruction. I've said this once and I'll say this again. That our nation has been built on the solid ground from our forefathers, and there is a moral code of duty that has been passed on from President Lincoln. I'm here today to acknowledge the truth, and I'm here today to tell you my fellow Americans that our country…

Oh no, not our absurd words of destruction!

Part DEUX:

is stronger, safer, and with more jobs because our President has made his every move correct. Don't be fooled by the political left, because we are the people of this nation that is witnessing triumph. So let us stand with our president. Let us stand up for this truth, that President Trump is the greatest president since President Lincoln.

Does Jon Voight not know there have been... other presidents? Can he name them? Because really, it does not sound like it. Does he also not know that a very big chunk of the Republican Party actually does not care very much for Abraham Lincoln? Namely those defenders of Confederate statues that Trump called "very fine people?" Also, did he intentionally diss their beloved Ronald Reagan?

Who can know? Who can even tell what he is trying to say or why he is trying to say it. He doesn't appear to have tweeted much since 2016, so I'm guessing whoever's job it was to keep him from tanking his career quit. Either that... or after filming the seventh season of Ray Donovan, he found out it's going to be canceled or his character is getting killed off or something and he is now free to be a jackass? I don't know, I haven't watched the show, although my parents are very into it and mad that I haven't watched it. Literally all I know about it is that it has something to do with Boston, because they keep mentioning that to me like it's a selling point.

It seems useless at this point to note that the people who scream their faces off about how bad it is for Hollywood celebs to support liberal causes, and how they should keep their politics to themselves, etc. etc. make a way bigger deal than normal people do whenever a Big Time Hollywood Celebrity like Jon Voight or, uh, Scott Baio, supports their cause. Mostly because they're the only ones who have elected a reality TV star and the star of Bedtime for Bonzo (who by the way, also once practically ruined a perfectly good Bette Davis movie with his bad acting. Which is not to say that Dark Victory is not fantastic and probably the best thing to watch if you want to sob your face off, but he was very bad in it.) to run the country.

But we might as well do that anyway, because it actually never stops being funny.

[Jon Voight Twitter]

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