Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Extraordinarily low ratings for TurboTax

Around this time of year, I usually start looking around for new tax software (for the 2008 tax year). I like to get a head start on my income taxes before the end of the year. What a racket tax software publishers have! Each year, they update their existing software programs to match the latest tax laws. Sometimes they will add a few minor enhancements, but the end product largely the same as the previous year's version. Most readers know that each year, I choose to use either TaxCut or TurboTax to do my taxes.

Anyway, I was looking at TurboTax (Deluxe Federal + State + eFile 2008 version) at Amazon, and noticed that this product has already received over 300 reviews. It is unusual for a new product (which has been out for about a month) to have so many reviews, especially something as mundane as a tax preparation software. After all, it is not like people are reviewing a new Apple iPod, or the latest Blu-ray disc player. It is just tax software...

But what I noticed was that the vast majority of the ratings for the latest Turbo Tax were "1 out of 5", which is the lowest rating possible. Something definitely seemed wrong to me! Upon further investigation I found that reviewers were actually mounting a protest of two things:

1) TurboTax significantly increased the price of their software for tax year 2008.
2) TurboTax is now charging people an extra $10 for each additional tax return, if they file more than one.

It sounds like deja vu all over again as this situation reminds me of the year that TurboTax (Intuit) introduced its short-lived product activation scheme. To make a long story short, one was not allowed to install TurboTax on more than one computer, and this caused a lot of discontent among TurboTax users who prepare their taxes using more than one PC. This event became known as the "activation debacle" which Intuit experienced several years ago.

This year, I was thinking of switching from TaxCut (who also significantly increased the price of their software) to TurboTax. But after reading all of these negative reviews, I probably won't.