April 16, 2014

Turbotax: To Have And To Hold

Despite being morally opposed to their wretched existence, I would still appreciate some decency from my tax-preparers. An understanding of our relationship beyond the tedium and fees straight on through to the slavery. Perhaps some philosophical alignment as we navigate the cruel forces which brought us together on this day. Something unspoken, transmitted chemically, validating a mutual bloodlust.

But since I just used Turbotax*, I'd like them to reconsider the language of the first step in their process:

"...the portion the (federal) government kept" - Turbotax

The government did not keep anything, Turbotax; it took. It stole. It collected. However you want to say it. The government did not hold a portion back of what it allowed me to possess. The IRS is not permitting me an honorary slice of a whole which it provides. Instead, I'm left with a remainder after whatever political whim confiscates my money by force this year. I think some simple rephrasing would do better justice to the situation. Might I recommend some of the pep and hustle of Boxes 15-20?

"...state taxed...hard-earned..." - Turbotax

"Taxed". "Hard-earned". Consistent with this language and insight, Boxes 1-6 could read: "Let's start with the money you made this year, and the portion the federal government taxed. That's what these boxes are about." Nice and easy. I'm not asking Turbotax to tell me the government will screw me based on these figures, I would just like to know they understand the nature of this transaction.

They approached the state tax section so heroically that it's a wonder the same species could have written the federal section. Maybe they assigned a Progressive to Boxes 1-6 and a Tea Partier to 15-20 and their personalities shone through and Turbotax is to be applauded for their diverse and unpredictable tone. 

Or maybe Turbotax labored over every syllable of those blurbs and what we have is exactly what we're meant to have. With this possibility in mind, there are a couple of reasons these blurbs can be read as anti-federalist, pro-centralized-government subtleties.

 1) Notice how a (non-specified) government 'keeps', yet a (non-governmental) state 'taxed' 'hard-earned money'? One is nebulous and a keeper, the other specific and a taker. The federal government has been othered as non-aggressive while the state is the explicit taxer.

2) In Boxes 15-20, the word 'too'. This, Turbotax could claim, is proof they meant the government also taxes hard-earned money. Fine. I will just note this is the (federal) government from several sections ago that also taxes hard-earned money, and that the jab is taken in the state tax section, allowing the (federal) government's blurb to remain pristine. The correlation between the (federal) government and taxes, linguistically, is distantly removed. Maybe some ass-covering by Turbotax just in case there are people like me, but do note that the government as keeper blurb is untainted by these revelations.

Subtle, yes, but that is the nature of psychological warfare.

Whether it's philosophically inconsistent copy or centralized-government astro-turfing I leave to you.

*I experienced no technical problems filing my taxes.