TurboTax Implicated in Geithner's Tax Folly?

Intuit, we're sure, loves free advertising, but not of this type. Tim Geithner has been roasted over the fact that while working for the International Monetary Fund, he failed to pay his Social Security and Medicare taxes as required. When asked about how he had his taxes prepared during that time, Geithner answered "I used TurboTax."

Senator Charles Grassley replied:
"The tax code is complex and tax preparers get it wrong; I appreciate you prepared your own returns."
Geithner added that, to his recollection, the software did not prompt him to report income and pay self-employment taxes.

"I mistakenly believed that I was meeting my obligations fully, including self-employment taxes, but I did not prepare my returns in a way that caught that mistake initially. These are my responsibility, not the tax software responsibility."

Ah yes, but you can bet Intuit heard that and said, "Whoops! We need to respond to this ASAP." And they did. In a press release last week, Dan Maurer, senior vice president and general manager of TurboTax said:

"Each year, millions of Americans use TurboTax to accurately prepare and file their federal and state tax returns. The software helps taxpayers report their income and find the deductions and credits they’re entitled to claim.

"TurboTax, and all software and in-person tax preparation services, base their calculations on the information users provide when completing their returns. TurboTax also has built-in error-checking tools that routinely catch common taxpayer mistakes.

"Federal law and our own privacy policy prohibit us from discussing specifics of any customer’s return."

At the same time, Scott Gulbransen a spokesman for TurboTax said:

"The way TurboTax works, we ask you your personal information up front and walk you down an interview path that asks you the source of your income. Once you're done with that it will ask you if you had other sources of income."
Yes, it's hard to believe the software wouldn't have prompted him for the information that would have led to him entering the funds given to him by the IMF to pay his Social Security and Medicare taxes. One question, though: isn't Geithner supposed to get audit support from Intuit? How about support at his confirmation hearing?

Anyway, one has to wonder as the tax season rolls around if TaxCut and TaxAct will use this revelation in a commercial of some sort. "If Geithner had used our software, he would have already been confirmed!"