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Intuit (TurboTax) Spends Millions To Keep Us From Filing Taxes Quickly And For Free

Here’s something to keep in mind as you wait in line at 11:30 PM on April 15th: filing your taxes could be so, so much easier. Bills have been put before Congress that would let taxpayers choose to have the Internal Revenue Service calculate their taxes due for them, and send them a bill or cut a refund check accordingly. Only there are companies lobbying to keep things exactly as they are. The biggest spenders aren’t accounting firms, or even Big Tax Cat. It’s Intuit, the maker of popular tax-filing program TurboTax. The company has spent more than $11 million lobbying to keep tax returns around forever. [More]

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Massachusetts DOT Pulls 9 Violent Arcade Video Games From State Rest Stops

It’s been a month of change since the Dec. 14 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., where 20 children and six adults were killed by a gunman. The alleged gunman also reportedly played video games, some of which are violent. That association with violence and guns has many in the government worried, including the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, which has subsequently pulled nine video games from the state’s rest area plazas. [More]

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State Says Restaurant’s Church Bulletin Discount On Sundays Isn’t Discriminatory, But Needs Work

Is a promotion offering discounts to customers who bring in a “current church bulletin” discriminatory or unfair to people who aren’t religious? One Pennyslvania restaurant won’t remove or re-word their 10% off promotion for churchgoers, saying that it’s helped business on Sundays. It has, but it also got the attention of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. [More]

(frankieleon)

Lawyer Who Took Out Annuities On The Dying Pleads Guilty 1 Week Into Trial

Depending on your point of view, Joseph Caramadre of Cranston, R.I. is either an opportunist who scammed the terminally ill, or a great philanthropist who found a win-win loophole and made last few months of the dying easier and more comfortable. The federal prosecutors who charged him with wire and mail fraud leaned toward the former. [More]

(paulhami)

I Just Want The Government To Take My Money Already

At a time of fiscal crisis for governments everywhere, Adam has sort of an unusual problem. He wants his state government to take his money. He says that he paid his taxes on time, back in April, and they’ve come after him for penalties and interest because they seem to keep losing the checks that he sent them. Yes, checks, multiple. [More]

Use The Clock And Google Voice To Actually Reach The IRS

Use The Clock And Google Voice To Actually Reach The IRS

Sure, it’s not peak IRS season right now, but there is quite a variety of reasons that you might have to deal with the ever-present government agency anyway. Tax Cat is out of the office, vacationing at his offshore kitty condo in the Cayman Islands, so it’s up to reader Christopher, a tax preparer, to serve us up with handy tax advice. See, sometimes you have to call the IRS. You can’t avoid it. But so does everyone else in the country. What Christopher figured out is that the IRS call center doesn’t have fixed hours like most. Its open hours depend on what time zone you live in. His solution? Use a Google Voice number to fudge what time zone he’s in, and call late in the evening when the business day is done for most of the continental U.S. [More]

Skechers To Pay $40 Million In Refunds Because Putting On Shoes Is Not A Workout

Skechers To Pay $40 Million In Refunds Because Putting On Shoes Is Not A Workout

News flash: you can’t work out by not working out. As we predicted in November, the Federal Trade Commission has settled with shoemaker Skechers over claims that their rounded-bottom Shape-Up shoes helped wearers to tone their lower-body muscles and lose weight. These claims were all over ads and promotional material for the shoes, including an ad that aired during the 2011 Super Bowl. [More]

Car Dealership And VA Team Up To Damage Wounded Veteran's Credit

Car Dealership And VA Team Up To Damage Wounded Veteran's Credit

When Kat and her husband traded in their old Ford Focus, the dealership told them that they would be able to pay off the loan faster than the couple could. This was true, if by “faster” they meant “not at all.” See, Kat’s husband was wounded while serving in Afghanistan, and is due a $19,000 grant from the Veterans Administration to buy a vehicle. This grant is a check cut directly to the dealership. Two months later, the VA, acting with all of the swiftness and efficiency that government agencies are known for, hasn’t sent the check yet. Naturally, instead of actually contacting the couple about the issue, the dealership just went ahead and didn’t pay off the loan as promised. They won’t until the check from the VA shows up. This is affecting Kat’s husband’s credit, and is just generally rude. [More]

Anxious To Get Your Tax Refund? IRS Says 'Go Get Another Job'

Emily is a law student, and she spent last summer doing lawyer-type work and earning lawyer-type money. She mistakenly set up her withholding as if she were earning that much money year-round, though, so the government owes her a pretty sweet refund now that she’s returned to the poor, ascetic life of a student. She even filed her taxes super early so she can get that money back. Only the IRS has flagged her for extra-special review, delaying her refund, and no one she can get in touch with seems to care. “You should just get another job,” one helpful representative told her. [More]

Car Receives $44,500 Ticket For 1,800 Years Of Illegal Parking

Car Receives $44,500 Ticket For 1,800 Years Of Illegal Parking

Accurate data entry is important. Need proof? Just ask the woman in Italy who was taken to the hospital for a dizzy spell after receiving a €32,000 ($44,500) parking ticket. How long does a car have to be parked to receive that kind of fine? About 1,800 years. Wait, what? [More]

US Economy Grew 2.5% In Third Quarter, Department of Commerce Report Says

US Economy Grew 2.5% In Third Quarter, Department of Commerce Report Says

Buoyed by brisker consumer and business spending, The American economy grew at an annualized rate of 2.5% in the third quarter, according to a report released this morning by the U.S. Department of Commerce, [More]

TSA Finds Your Vibrator In Checked Suitcase, Leaves Creepy Note

TSA Finds Your Vibrator In Checked Suitcase, Leaves Creepy Note

Bad: Having the TSA pawing through your checked luggage. Worse: The suitcase they chose to open includes a sex toy. Worse still: the person who went through your bags leaves a leering note. Specifically, they scrawl “GET YOUR FREAK ON GIRL” on the notice of inspection.

The New Consumer Bill Of Rights

The New Consumer Bill Of Rights

The folks over at Fearless Revolution have made several iterative amendments to JFK’s 1964 Consumer Bill of Rights to update it for the modern age. [More]

Credit Card Marketer Uses Clever Way To Circumvent New Regs

Credit Card Marketer Uses Clever Way To Circumvent New Regs

Looks like at least one credit card marketer has cooked up a clever way around regulations that forbid unsolicited credit cards from being issued and showing up in your mailbox. [More]

Obama's Debt Reduction Plan Includes Letting Debt Collectors Robo-Call Cellphones To Collect On Federal Student Loans

Obama's Debt Reduction Plan Includes Letting Debt Collectors Robo-Call Cellphones To Collect On Federal Student Loans

One part of the debt-reduction bill Obama sent to Congress is a provision that would let debt collectors robo-call cellphones to collect on what’s owed to the government, like federal student loans. [More]

Bill Introduced To Let Robots Call Your Cellphone

Bill Introduced To Let Robots Call Your Cellphone

Since ’91, it’s been illegal for telemarketers to use autodialers and other robot-like devices to call your cellphone. Last week, a bill was introduced to change that. While in the past email hoaxes have gone around saying that your cellphone could be opened up to telemarketers, HR 3035 seeks to let businesses contact your cellphone “for informational purposes.” [More]

Govt. Paid Over $600 Million In Benefits To Dead Workers

Govt. Paid Over $600 Million In Benefits To Dead Workers

A new report by the Office of Personnel Management’s inspector general say the federal government has paid out over $600 million in benefits in the past five years to dead people. The money was meant to go to retired or disabled federal workers. [More]

Berliner Suckered Into Paying $680 For Free Government Forms

Berliner Suckered Into Paying $680 For Free Government Forms

A woman from Berlin Googled for US citizenship application info and thought the site she landed on was an all-in-one place for taking care of all her forms. She forked over $680, and what she got back were forms she could have gotten from the government for free. [More]