[Novalug] Tax Software Example
kkauffman at headfog.com
Tue Jan 23 08:38:18 EST 2007
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This is going to be quite long. I believe it to be a good read, but
then again -- I wrote it, so of course I would <grin>.
The issue that I have with Tax Software available elsewhere PARTICULARLY
with open source solutions is the backing provided by the software
creator. There are a lot of tax laws that exist that either may have
changes, created or have new interpretations and guidelines.
Those are always covered and warrantied by the "big players" out there
[Quicken and TaxCut (H&R Block)].
Additionally, I have chosen E-filing with TaxCut (over Quicken). About
4 years ago Quicken introduced a copy protection mechanism that
*crushed* my Windows installation. The burner simply was crippled as a
result of the software. I don't care if they removed it subsequently, I
will likely never use Intuit tax software. I moved to TaxCut. I also
continue to use Quicken because it has functionality I leverage simply
not in other OSS products.
Jay Hart -- here is an interesting piece that counters your argument on
only filing by paper to prevents "screw ups" from the on line
submission. The support supersedes the issue.
Good support piece that I found with TaxCut from their online Q&A --
Q: Can I do my taxes by hand and then sign up for Worry-free Audit Support?
A. No. H&R Block Worry-free Audit Support is only offered for returns
e-filed with an H&R Block Digital Tax Product.
How It Works:
1-Successfully e-file* your individual resident income tax return
(federal or state) using TaxCut or TaxCut Online (with paid federal
return) and you are eligible to receive audit support at no additional
charge for your 2006 return.
2-Retain your e-file confirmation email for Worry-free Audit Support?
3-If you receive a notice from the IRS or State Department of Revenue or
are audited, H&R Block will provide you with assistance with the notice
and/or offer to provide you with an H&R Block Enrolled Agent to
represent you if you are audited.*
4-Call 1-800-HRBLOCK to initiate audit services that you may need.
Conditions apply. View the complete terms and conditions for details.
Even if tax software for Linux were freely available, I 100% want
*backing* of the product like this. I noticed that TaxCut has recently
been made available for the Mac as well.
For me, there are certain products that just require them to be backed
to avoid legal repercussions.
As an additional note, this is the type of obstacle that exists for OSS
in the business. No matter how effective the solution, management wants
backing and accountability of certain types of products. The pressure
is even higher if your business falls into needing to become
Sarbanes-Oxley (SoX) compliant. SoX mandates not only separation of
duty for individuals but that focus highlights the accountability around
each responsibility. There is a higher pressure for people to provide
solutions that work accurately the first time. One OSS strength becomes
that primary weakness in that the code is open and you can edit it if
there is a problem. However, "if there is a problem" is unacceptable to
A COTS solution where someone guarantees the solution and is legally
accountable is less of a headache for most organizations. We all know
that it may or may not meet the need, but accountability is built in.
So if you can make that sell, then OSS isn't hard to get into the business.
I only bring this up because I know Novalug has public engagements (i.e.
Congressional Internet Caucus Tech Fair) that exposes the interests to
the business and government. If the representatives of NOVALUG can
articulate in clear terms the issues at hand and how they are *already*
addressed in the business space, then the interests are better served.
Talking negatively about another solution or product almost never sells
the product your trying to push. Avoid MS bashing. You have to justify
and illustrate the value in OSS solutions.
I also thing a dogged approach that all solutions must OSS is the wrong
communication to send to anyone. This comes at the expense of being
viewed as extremists.
I'm interested in any stories or opinions you may have about what I've
written above. Also if I haven't been clear please ask for clarification.
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