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Mission vs. Money: The Tax Filing Industry's Moral Dilemma


Balanced scale with money and heart, tax documents and calculator, with orange highlights.

Introduction

In today's fast-paced world, where technology reigns supreme, companies often promise to make our lives easier and more efficient. They pledge to uphold a mission that's geared towards helping people and simplifying complex processes, such as filing taxes. However, in the pursuit of profits, some companies lose sight of their noble mission. In this blog, we'll discuss two critical aspects: when companies lose sight of their mission to help people file taxes and when they take advantage of financial illiteracy through bait-and-switch tactics, using examples from Intuit and TurboTax.


When Companies Lose Sight of Their Mission


Every successful company starts with a vision and a mission. For tax-filing companies, the mission is often to simplify the process of tax preparation and make it accessible to as many people as possible. However, over time, this mission can get lost in the pursuit of profits. Here are a few ways companies lose sight of their mission:

  • Complexity Over Simplicity: Filing taxes can be daunting, but it should not be made unnecessarily complex. Some companies add layers of complexity to their software, confusing users and making the process more cumbersome than it needs to be.

  • Hidden Fees: Promising affordable tax preparation solutions, some companies later spring hidden fees on users, exploiting their trust. These fees can include charges for state filings, access to specific forms, or even printing tax returns.

  • Lack of Transparency: Transparency is crucial when it comes to taxes. Some companies may not be forthright about the true cost of their services, leaving users feeling deceived and frustrated.

Exploiting Financial Illiteracy - The Intuit and TurboTax Controversy


One glaring example of a company losing sight of its mission and taking advantage of people's financial illiteracy is the case of Intuit and TurboTax. These companies, with a mission to simplify tax filing, have faced severe criticism for their tactics.

  • Bait-and-Switch Pricing: The two largest tax preparation services companies have faced backlash for their deceptive pricing practices. They lure users in with the promise of "free" tax filing but often end up charging them for basic features, such as filing a state return or accessing specific tax forms. This bait-and-switch tactic is a clear betrayal of their mission.

  • Lobbying Against Simplicity: These companies have also been accused of lobbying against government efforts to simplify the tax filing process. This raises questions about their true intentions and their commitment to their mission of making tax filing easier for everyone.

  • Steering Users Towards Paid Versions: These two tax preparation and filing behemoths  are known to steer users towards their paid versions, even when users qualify for free filing. This manipulative practice exploits financial illiteracy and contradicts their mission to help people file taxes without unnecessary expenses.

How is MasRefund different?


Our mission is to democratize access to the underprivileged and under-served. Our focus is to assist the underprivileged population that typically can get taken advantage of using fear tactics. With the MasRefund app, you don’t pay a dime until you are ready to submit your tax return.


Conclusion


Companies in the tax filing industry must remember their mission to simplify the tax preparation process and make it accessible to all. Losing sight of this mission not only erodes trust but also harms consumers. The case of Intuit and TurboTax serves as a stark reminder of the dangers of prioritizing profits over people. To protect consumers and ensure fair treatment, both individuals and policymakers need to hold such companies accountable, promoting transparency, simplicity, and accessibility in the tax filing process.

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