Free Tax Advice by Phone… From a Software Company?

Tax Advice by PhoneAll makers of tax software provide some level of tech support and customer service and some will even give you tax advice, for an additional fee of course. But why would Intuit, the maker of TurboTax tax preparation software, provide free tax advice from professional accountants and tax preparers?

In an article in the Wall Street Journal, Intuit’s chief executive Brad Smith explains “The number one reason why people may choose to go to a tax store is that they don’t have the confidence that they know how to do it right.” By providing the service for free, the company hopes to convince people to give TurboTax a try. This way, customers who would have otherwise met with professional tax preparers can get comfortable with the software and may upgrade or at least stick with it next tax season, even without the free tax advice.

The company will have to spend millions to provide this service and they’re counting on it paying off in the long run.

Of course, it pays off for us (the consumers) pretty quickly. According to Intuit, professional tax outlets charge about $181 per tax return, whereas the most deluxe version of TurboTax is under $100 and it’s one of the most expensive programs out there. There are also free versions of most software, including TurboTax.

For those of us whose thriftiness battles our fear of messing up at tax season, this offer could be the boost needed to make the switch to software. And in case it isn’t enough on its own to calm your fears, the company says they’ll take full responsibility for paying for any mistakes made by their advisers. Their tax preparers will also only be able to see the information they need in order to help you, while things like your social security number will be hidden.

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