A couple of weeks ago, I posted about the stupidity of the Massachusetts Department of Revenue listing web sites on their Free File Alliance page that state in plain English that they charge for the filing of a Massachusetts income tax return. Some anonymous peon at the DOR responded to me with a useless non-answer and that seemed to be that on their end of things, for I never again received a response from them.
Today, I finally received the 1099 that I needed to file my taxes, so I again browsed over to the Free File Alliance page, and the DOR has added a two new companies. In a manner completely unsurprising to at least me, both of these web sites charge for filing a Massachusetts tax return.The first of these is pretty clever in hiding its fees for filing. See thusly:
TaxEngine.com would like to offer free state tax preparation to ALL taxpayers who e-file a Massachusetts state tax return.
Free state tax preparation when you e-file. Sounds good, right? Not so fast. Click on to their website and behold, it’s going to set you back $29.95 to actually file those freely-prepared returns.
The second is more obvious: the description for Tax$imple says you can file your Federal return for free if your AGI is under $54k, but then says “prepare, print and E-File your state return in just $7.95.” Not only is it not free, it’s grammatically incorrect to boot.
I wrote another note calling them out on this through their stupid web “contact us!” form, but I’m sure no one will read it and actually understand what is going on. This is Massachusetts, after all.
Update (2008-02-07): This morning I received an email from the DOR that was almost a verbatim copy of the email they sent me before. Check it:
Thank you for your recent inquiry.
The Massachusetts Free Alliance states the following:
A number of independent software companies have agreed to provide free services to Massachusetts taxpayers who meet certain eligibility requirements. Please review the list of offerings below to see if you qualify.
Thank you for visiting our website,
The Massachusetts Department of Revenue
I can’t help but snark this kind of bullshit. They obviously don’t care that they’re engaging in false advertising for private companies, which is quite maddening. My reply:
Dear Department of Revenue,
It seems you have once against missed the fact that these companies are not actually providing free services. Please review the list of offerings to see which ones clearly and in plain English make no claim to provide free services, and remove them from the list.
Thank you for once again ignoring the entire point of my comment and sending me an email that says absolutely nothing of value and only proves to me that you do not actually read anyone’s comments,
Update (again): shortly after I wrote that, I got another reply from some serf at the DOR. This time, they took it upon themselves to cut and paste the text of the Free File Alliance page… and email it to me. DUDES. I ALREADY READ THAT, AND I HAVE A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT IT SAYS THAN YOU.
I can’t bring myself to write back again. As funny as it is, it’s even more profoundly sad, and it’s actually damaging my soul a little to keep at it with these people.
In an oh-so-timely coincidence, I wandered over to Universal Hub to learn that WBZ is reporting that the state is owed some $2.2 billion (with a B) in back taxes. Let’s hear it for the Department of Revenue!