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Intuit gets greedy, nearly doubles price of TurboTax

After Intuit turned what had been a standard feature for the Deluxe version into costly add-on, H&R Block moved in and offered its jilted customers a free alternative.

011215 turbotax
Credit: TurboTax

As a freelancer, this is the time of year when I am installing Intuit's TurboTax, importing last year's return and changing the figures. Luckily for me, little changes from year to year, although that is not always a good thing. But unfortunately for me, Intuit has made a significant change to TurboTax.

ConsumerWorld.org was the first to notice the change. In the 2014 Deluxe edition ($59.99), which was always sufficient to do self-employment taxes, Intuit has removed Schedule C,  which self-employed people use, along with Schedules D, and E.

The full Schedule C is now only available in the Home & Business version, which runs $99.99, while Schedule E and the complete Schedule D, which has importation brokerage data, are now only available in their Premier edition or higher ($89.99). If you have Deluxe, like me, you will get prompted to make a purchase of an additional $30 to $40.

Needless to say, Intuit is getting skinned alive on Amazon. As of this writing, TurboTax 2014 has 852 one-star ratings on Amazon and just 81 five-star ratings, and TurboTax has been far and away the most popular home tax prep software on the market for years. User comments are understandably furious. Bob Meighan, a CPA and the vice president of customer advocacy for TurboTax at Intuit, is attempting to put out fires on the Amazon reviews, but it looks more like Intuit has thrown him to the lions.

TurboTax spokesperson Colleen Gatlin told NBC News the changes were made to provide consistency between their online and desktop product lines. She pointed out that the raw forms for Schedules C, D, and E can still be filled out manually in Forms Mode in TurboTax Deluxe, but they don’t recommend it because consistency and error checking is not done, nor can you file your taxes electronically.

H&R Block, which has always run a distant second to TurboTax, smells blood in the water and is offering a free copy of its tax prep software, federal and state, to the many furious TurboTax users. There isn't a site for this, you have to email H&R Block at SwitchToBlock@hrblock.com and include your name, address, and phone number, operating system and a photo, scan, or email showing proof of TurboTax Basic or Deluxe purchase.

Once approved, H&R Block will then send a link for one free download of H&R Block Deluxe + State tax software. You can even import last year’s tax return from TurboTax into the H&R Block tax software.

Intuit is a smart company. There's a reason it has endured for decades and fought off challenges from Microsoft for years. Microsoft is known for tenacity and it hung in there forever with Microsoft Money before finally throwing in the towel in 2009, something it rarely does. But Intuit has screwed up so incredibly badly with this one I'm more surprised than angry, although I am pretty angry, too.

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