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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Sticking it to the TurboTax Man

Any TurboTax user needing to file forms in more than one state will quickly find that they need to pony up $39.95 per state after the first free state. Almost $40 just for a bunch of electronic forms? Puh-leez. That’s probably enough to buy ANOTHER copy of TurboTax! Considering the current state of the economy, Intuit sure doesn’t seem to be helping its customers.TurboTaxLogo275

Naturally, this led me to some tinkering with TurboTax’s innards. I gotta give them some kudos here – a registry and filesystem sweep turned up nothing on how TurboTax keeps track of what states you have and whether to charge you. Nevertheless, I came to the conclusion that this data must still be present locally as a fresh install on another computer still allowed me to download the first state for free.

After installing TurboTax on a VMWare Workstation install of Windows XP, I was able to download the first “free” state. The downloaded state forms are located in folders in C:\Program Files\Intuit\TurboTax 2008\forms\  (e.g. the Michigan forms are in a directory named mii_08). After zipping that folder up and copying it to the corresponding TurboTax folder on the real computer, TurboTax happily detected the new state forms. Voila – talk about increasing your refund by $40!

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