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Free tax filing is not nearly as free as it should be

When I first did my taxes, now over twenty years ago, it was easy. These were the olden days when you had to enter in the information on your Form W2 into TurboTax (or whatever program you used). It was free. It was easy.

But as the years passed, it became less free and that was, in part, because my tax situation got more complicated but also by design – tax prep companies want to make more money. Turns out the FTC has something to say about that

The Turbotax Trap [ProPublica] – “ProPublica has long detailed how Intuit, the maker of TurboTax, and other companies have worked against making tax preparation easier and less costly. They have lobbied to ban the IRS from offering free, simple tax filing and deceived customers who should qualify for the Free File product.”

The mystery of the miracle year [Dwarkesh Patel] – “An interesting pattern recurs across the career of great scientists: an annus mirabilis (miracle year) in which they make multiple, seemingly independent breakthroughs in the span of a single year or two.”

Life Advice from NYC Chess Hustlers [Cafe Anne] – “The chess tables in Washington Square Park’s southwest corner have been occupied by a revolving cast of hustlers for more than 80 years. When a CAFÉ ANNE reader suggested I interview these fellows for a feature, I asked what she wanted to know. Boy, did she have questions! “How often do people win? Do they compete against each other? What were they doing before this? Or is this like a side hustle!? I mean seriously WHAT IS THEIR DEAL!?!?!?!?””