TurboTax and Spyware Rumor

I’ve been purchasing TurboTax for several years, but when I went to the Amazon TurboTax page, most of the reviews are negative. Some of the reviews spoke of spyware installed by TurboTax:

Is this true? Can anybody confirm it?

And if it is true, I think that I would prefer to use an alternative. Has anybody used TaxCut? How well does it work with TurboTax files? How well does it work in general?

You can find a review of TurboTax Deluxe 2002 at http://www.zdnet.com/supercenter/stories/overview/0,12069,589398,00.html and an article, “Complaints mount from TurboTax customers” at http://zdnet.com.com/2110-1104-980695.html

PC Magazine prefers Tax Cut over Turbo Tax.

This is disappointing. I have used TT for years too. I may have to make the change after I research this for a bit more.

There is free software availble for download called Ad-aware. Running this program will remove all spyware from your hard drive. I highly recommend it.

Haj

Does Quicken do this, too? Is MS Money better?

I’m actually surprised Intuit didn’t use copy protection before this. It’s pretty much the easiest software to share between family members. Just hand the CD around once you do your taxes. Not that I would do this of course.

I’ll point out for the Mac users that may be getting worried: the Mac version of Turbo Tax is not loaded with spyware nor authentication nor any other schemes. It’s perfectly normal, and I filed online with it yesterday.

Thanks for the links, Yeah. Oddly enough, I just recieved my copy of PC Magazine and found the reviews there helpful. However, despite the fact that the review of TurboTax details the activation process, it doesn’t mention anything that SafeCast.

I though it was very interesting about TurboTax installing a program that didn’t uninstall. From the article linked to above:

A few questions, though. What is SafeCast, what does it do, and is it the same thing as C-Dilla that the reviews speak of? The TurboTax spokeman (or whoever he was) said that SafeCast wasn’t spyware.

Last year, I used the Turbo Tax Gold (?)version ON-LINE - just filled out all the info and, if you don’t like what you see, log off and it costs nothing.
I liked what I saw, paid the $36 or so, it was submitted to the IRS electronically and I had the money in my account in less than two weeks.

No programs to download, it was fast and easy and the program caught any “funny stuff” that didn’t make sense or add up. It even made suggestions to save money I had not thought of before - I might add I also used the loooooong version for homeowner, etc. - the same version that had cost me over $150 to have done the year before by Jackson-Hewitt (H&R Block type business here).

I plan to use Trubo Tax on-line again this year.

Now if my employer would hurry up and send those year end statements!!!

Yeah, this is annoying, on principal, if nothing else. I’m afraid we’re going to get more of it, though.

Safecast appears to be the product name, which was originally produced by Ç-Dilla Ltd. That company has since been aquired by Macrovision, and renamed “Macrovision Europe”:

http://www.c-dilla.com/

It appears that the main purpose of the Safecast product is indeed licensing / authentication:

http://www.macrovision.com/solutions/software/drm/

Look at the blurb at the bottom about “What Safecast does NOT do”. Intuit can probably reasonably claim it isn’t spyware. Some of the spyware sites seem disturbed that SafeCast’s earlier pages had different wording to one of the feature bullet lists:

  • Require users to activate or register their software, and gather valuable data on your customer base.

Giving them the benefit of the doubt, I’m going to take that to mean that you can require users to enter the information you want to have in order to register and use the product, not that it is clandestine “spyware”.

That doesn’t say that it’s not annoying.


A couple caveats concerning TaxCut, though:

From the Spyware Weekly Newsletter:

They provide a link to the said privacy policy, and their assessment seems correct, although Block claims there’s an opt-out procedure:

It also appears that you need to get the “Platinum” version of TaxCut to handle investments. I have to consider AMT, and apparently TaxCut Deluxe doesn’t “cut” it.

Better still, the IRS is actually doing something for free!

See http://www.irs.gov/app/freeFile/welcome.jsp

I second the vote for the ONLINE version of Turbo Tax. It’s all done within your web browser and (to me) the $30 or so that it costs beats the hassle of going to the store and buying new software every year. I’ve used TT Online for two years now and haven’t a single complaint about it - except that sometimes the language used could be a bit more clear.

The free filing is generally only available if you can use the 1040-EZ or have a gross income of under $30,000. FYI.

      • I don’t know if this was the program or not, but one of them used an installation authentication and after you had registered it as installed once, it wouldn’t install completely again. If you took the CD and put it in another computer and tried to register it, the software would appear to do everything as 100% normal (even if you registered it online again), except that the forms wouldn’t print out and you couldn’t export the forms’ data in any way for any other program to use them. Regstering to the same serial number twice wouldn’t work, but it wouldn’t tell you it didn’t work. You found out when you went to print out your completed forms and nothing happened. I saw this story on the Register(UK), me thinks.
        ~

Can it import previous tax histories (i.e. prepared with TurboTax 2001)?

I have Turbo Tax installed on my computer and ran Ad-Aware and nothing was found.

I think C-Dilla has been unfairly labeled as “spyware”. It is a licensing mechanism - many high-end software packages (I’m pretty sure 3DS Max and possibly Maya) use this software as well to authenticate their users. Yes, it collects data, but it can’t authenticate and license an installation if it doesn’t have this data - otherwise it would be completely useless. If it makes you register, I don’t have a problem with that. I don’t even have a problem if the software company sells/rents that information - as long as there is an opt-out program.

Both H&R Block and Intuit would be committing suicide if they didn’t have a clear, easy opt-out policy.

I don’t have Turbo Tax, so I can’t speak for it, but I installed TaxCut, and their opt-out procedure was fairly painless.

My .02 (pre-tax :slight_smile: )
critter42

I also have used Turbo Tax ONLINE to file my taxes… it was free for me 'cause my AGI is less than 25K, but otherwise it’s like $30 or so…

 It was very easy, and this year when I used it, I was told they could impoort my info from last year. All I had to do was enter my previous UserID and password and there we were...I could also import my info from a home version of Turbo Tax, if I had one. They ALSO prompted me to d/l my info from my company's payroll company (I didn't do this, I'm much more comfortable entering it manually, plus I don't think the payroll company offers such a service).