One thing we've always done is donate things around the house we no longer want to charities, and deduct the value of those donations from our income when doing our taxes. We win by getting rid of stuff and decreasing clutter, plus by getting a tax deduction. The charities win by selling what we donated.
A few years ago, we started using a program called "It's Deductible". It's created by the same folks, Intuit, that create Quicken and TurboTax, both of which we've become addicted to. You simply enter in each item being donated, and they miraculously figure out how much it is worth, so you can figure out your deduction. Easier, and more defensible to the IRS. It worked out pretty well, and its data was importable into TurboTax when we did our taxes.
Well, in the last couple of years, Intuit has changed their marketing strategy on this product, and in the process completely screwed over their current customers, including us. First, they started packaging It's Deductible with TurboTax. Buy TurboTax and get It's Deductible for free. Sounds like a good deal, and we fell for it.
We bought TurboTax, but there was no It's Deductible. It turned out, even though we bought the desktop version of the tax software, the free product was the online version of ID. Not what we expected, but ok, we'll try it. We can use it, even though it's not as convenient as having the software installed on our home computer and having the data right there.
Then the end of the year came up, and it turns out that TurboTax desktop cannot read the data from ID online. Get this. The product that was given away for free with TurboTax was not compatible with that very same product. Not only that, we could not even go into It's Deductible and get a report of the value of the items we gave away. You could not extract (or even just view) that data without loading it into a tax return prepared by TurboTax online! So, we created a fake return in TurboTax online, imported the ID data, and then manually typed the data into our real return.
That was last year. For some silly reason we decided to try it again. Surely, they would get it right this year.
In a way, they did. You can now load It's Deductible online data into the desktop version of TurboTax. But now our taxes have become complicated enough that we are hiring an accountant rather than using TurboTax. It feels good to tell Intuit that their stupid business practices are driving us away as customers. However, they have our data about donations trapped on their servers, and we have no way to get it out.
That's right. Intuit has created and marketed a product that let's you enter and track a year's worth of data. At the end of the year, they hold your data hostage to using their product. If you don't use their tax preparation software, you can't get your data back. Sounds like blackmail, false advertising, and other things that I won't print here (and I don't censor my blog).
I think Intuit is counting on the fact that a class action lawsuit is too costly and won't get us our data in time to file our taxes. But clearly as consumers we shouldn't have to take this kind of abuse by a company that we have patronized for many, many years.
If anybody has any ideas on how to deal with Intuit and get our data back, please let me know. In the meantime, I highly recommend that you don't start using any of their products, as they clearly don't put any value on protecting their customers' data.