Monday, December 2, 2013

Egregious misinformation on TurboTax website

Sigh!  Tax law is complicated enough for taxpayers to get right.  I am disappointed in TurboTax for making such a prominent FALSE statement on its website.

The first sentence in the TurboTax post in the screenshot above (captured on 12/2/2013) reads:  "If you're currently unmarried and don't have children, your filing status has to be single."

I don't know who at Intuit wrote such an egregiously incorrect statement, or what editing/proofreading process let it slip through, but anyone who thinks that statement is true should not be preparing even the most basic VITA returns, let alone be giving "tips" on the Internet site of the leading publisher of tax software.

Let's examine why this statement is false.

1) An unmarried person without children can sometimes qualify for a filing status other than "Single". For example, a childless bachelor who supports an elderly parent or another close relative who lives with him may qualify for Head of Household filing status.

2) Whether you are "currently" unmarried is completely irrelevant to your filing status.  What is generally relevant--in many cases--is your marital status on December 31 of the tax year.  (For a recent widow like myself, it is more complicated, but again--my *current* marital status at the time I file my 2013 return has nothing to do with my filing status on that return.  I will be filing a 2013 joint return with my late husband so my filing status will be "Married Filing Jointly" even though I will be "currently unmarried" at the time I file the return.)

Full disclosure:  I have used TurboTax software myself for years and have generally found it to be pretty reliable (though I always cross-check it with at least one other software product AND also do a line-by-line readthrough to double-check the logic and mathematics.)

I am very disappointed.


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