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TurboTax Maker Linked to Campaign Against Free Tax Filing

ProPublica recently reported that lobbyists for Intuit, the maker of TurboTax, reached out to community leaders and officials persuading them that pre-filled tax returns would essentially hurt low-income Americans. 

What community leaders and officials failed to realize was that the pre-filled tax returns, already endorsed by President Obama and President Reagan, would use information that the government already receives from national banks and employers. The pre-filled tax returns would be voluntary services that taxpayers could use and adjust, making it easier and cheaper for many Americans to file their taxes. 

The Utah Transit Authority doubled spending on controversial bonuses for managers last year, while it sought a sales-tax hike it says is needed to restore bus service cut during the recession.

The agency spent $1.74 million on such bonuses last year, twice the $870,368 doled out in 2012, according to UTA salary data analyzed by The Salt Lake Tribune.

Police officers and firefighters who file injury claims in the Lower Hudson Valley often collect tax-free salaries for years while local municipalities and the state wrangle over who ultimately picks up the tab. More than 15 percent of the state's first responders end up retiring on a state-funded disability pension. That number is even higher in Westchester, Putnam and Rockland counties, where one in four is awarded the pension after being found too badly hurt to ever work again.

The Journal News examined thousands of records from more than 70 area police and fire departments, finding that taxpayers in the three counties spent more than $163 million over the past decade to pay injured public safety employees unable to work. That's enough to cover the salaries of all police officers and firefighters in 13 local departments for 10 years.

Charities and other non-profits often try to keep their losses quiet to avoid spooking donors, but a Washington Post investigation by Joe Stephens and Mary Pat Flaherty used a new IRS tax return checkbox to find more than 1,000 organizations that reported significant diversions of assets. The Post’s online database is being used by news organizations around the country (and abroad) to report on charities in their area that were victimized.

“Google Inc., Facebook Inc. and LinkedIn Corp. wound up in Ireland because they could reduce their tax bills. Their success is leading European and U.S. politicians to label the country a tax haven that must change its ways. The grand architect of much of that success: Feargal O’Rourke, the scion of a political dynasty who heads the tax practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Ireland.”

Since 2005, New York taxpayers have donated $1.8 million through their income tax returns to aid the fight against prostate cancer, but researchers have yet to see a dime.

"This man owed $134 in property taxes. The District sold the lien to an investor who foreclosed on his $197,000house and sold it. He and many other homeowners like him were left with nothing."

"There is no legal limit and no standardized formula for calculating Mello-Roos taxes. In some cases, the formulas are so convoluted that homeowners have virtually no way of knowing whether they’re paying the correct amount. What’s more there is no state oversight over the funds: at a minimum, the system is far from transparent to those who are footing the bill. Some are asking whether it’s even legal," according to an inewsource investigation.

The Sunlight Foundation reports that in the wake of Citizens United, tax-exempt social welfare groups, 501(c)4 organizations, have becoming increasingly popular as conduits for big, anonymous campaign donations. A survey by the Sunlight Foundation found dozens of groups in Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia that appear to benefit Republican and Democratic politicians, despite being set up as social welfare nonprofits that according to tax code most benefit whole communities. The Sunlight Foundation also reports "plenty of evidence that a group's ability to operate as a tax exempt organization has less to do with its political persuasion than its budget and political connections."

“A major defense contractor used campaign donations and insider access on Capitol Hill to defy the Air Force and keep a troubled drone aloft at a cost to taxpayers of billions of dollars,” according to a Center for Public Integrity report.

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