Ah, yes, spring is upon us, and with it comes the end to the tax season. While the terminology can be confusing, and the process cumbersome, online tax software claim to provide an easy and affordable way to complete our taxes, right?
Recently, I had a chance to use TaxAct software to file my income taxes, and I must say the experience was, well, to put it bluntly, horrible. On the website, you will see all types of promises including the phrases “free of charge” and “Start for free now!” Unfortunately, the truth behind this clever marketing tactic is sinister and disingenuous. The software works how I imagine the federal government operates: inefficiently. It is much more complicated than it needs to be and lacks even basic intuitiveness. This is not, however, a design flaw but a purposeful tactic to tack on added fees throughout the process.
Several times I was prompted that I needed a certain form. Upon opening the form, I was brought to a screen that stated I needed to upgrade my service to use this tool within the TaxAct software. Let me preface this by saying, I don’t make a lot of money, I don’t own a home and I don’t have additional incomes. My taxes are simple and yet these upgrades were still needed. This company is using the fact that most people are getting a large sum of money given back to them relative to their income, and with this in mind, a user will not hesitate to spend the extra coin just to “be done with it.”
But it doesn’t end at one simple charge, several times you are prompted in a confusing manner to purchase this or upgrade to that. It was like a car salesman trying to sell the rust proof undercoating. You didn’t want it, but somehow you’re paying for it by the end. This time it was tax software and by the end, I was paying $38 each for federal and state returns. The main website doesn’t even have this type of pricing scale so I’m left wondering where these charges came from?
To figure that out is easy. Simply, retrace your steps through the whole process, find where they charged you and decline whatever tool they slyly included in that part of the process. Even to a technologically savvy person like myself, it is a daunting task. It is all a purposeful ruse to trap you into charges you didn’t know you were receiving and is completely dishonest.
Want to hear the kicker? Through the whole process they are pitching products to you, and making it seem as if you need them to complete your taxes. In fact, they withhold the information that your taxes have been filed until they pitch five separate products to you with names like “RaSocial,” which they described as a social security account. I’m not asking for tax software to be free, I am asking for it to be honest, and TaxAct simply isn’t.