Warning: TurboTax Missing Minnesota Tax Info (Updated With TurboTax Response)
[Editor's note: See TurboTax's response.]
Rarely do I get to a point where I’m so frustrated I could cry. But that’s where I sit right now. I have spent 120 minutes trying to help a company I like (TurboTax) fix a glitch in their system. But, after these two hours I failed at helping them understand the problem and was even hung up after waiting on hold for 45 minutes. Luckily, I can help you avoid the same mistakes I made.
The biggest problem that you should know about right now:
If you are a Minnesotan: When TurboTax completes your M1PR Property Tax Refund, between lines 10 and 11 you need to fill in your property tax ID and your county. TurboTax online doesn’t ask you for this information and subsequently leaves it blank. Also, you need to put the name of other people who you are including in household income.
Let’s back up.
I’ve been a faithful TurboTax user ever since I’ve filed my own taxes. In fact, as you might recall, I sort of enjoy taxes. I enjoy doing my taxes so much that I help extensively with my wife’s (given that our marriage isn’t recognized federally or in our state we file separately).
This year, as first-time homebuyers we got to fill out all sorts of new information. One form is the M1PR Minnesota Property Tax Refund. TurboTax seemingly helped us through this process. We answered a few questions and voila — it spit out a nifty completed form to mail in. (You can’t electronically file the M1PR form.)
Well, as is recommended, we go through our forms line by line before filing to make sure things make sense. Every year things added up. Until this year.
My wife Kimberly was taking the property tax credit. And on her property tax form several lines were blank. Lines that said "REQUIRED" and "ALL HOMEOWNERS." (Yes, in all bold caps).
Hmm, that’s odd. Why would Turbo Tax leave the required lines blank? I went through the process online again and found that Turbo Tax still didn’t ask these questions so they never filled them in.
So I did what any good consumer would do. I sent a support email explaining the problem. I wanted to help them fix the system so that hundreds of thousands of other people didn’t get the same blank spaces and file incorrect forms. Since the form wasn’t filled out correctly and TurboTax has a guarantee, I also requested a refund.
We got a reply email within 24 hours. The email told us to call a number because they couldn’t help via email.
So last night I called. I spent the first 45 minutes patiently trying to explain the problem to the support tech. Because it’s not easy to find the form on Turbo Taxes site I suggested she visit the MN Department of Revenue site to view the form. But despite all my explanations and even having her view my screen she just wasn’t getting the problem.
After 45 minutes of genuinely trying to help her understand the problem so they could fix the system, she still wasn’t understanding. So, I requested a supervisor. In fact, I requested talking to a supervisor 3 times during the next 15 minutes during which the support tech kept telling me that someone would be coming but that she had a few more questions.
Finally, after an hour on the phone I just requested a refund. I told her that I wanted to be able to help TurboTax with the glitch in their system, but that I really needed to go and would just like to get my money back through the TurboTax guarantee. She told me she couldn’t refund my money because I filed the other tax forms already. So, I asked to talk to a supervisor.
I waited over 40 minutes on hold to talk to a supervisor. Then, I heard a voice, a hang up, and then a dial tone. That’s right — after waiting for 40 minutes to talk to a supervisor — I got hung up on. So being even more convinced that I needed to explain the problem to someone, I called back. And waited on hold for another 20 minutes just to try to talk to someone. I gave myself a time limit (and wrote this story while on hold). Finally, I had had enough. Who knows how long I would have to wait to talk to someone — much less a supervisor.
[Editor's note: See TurboTax's response below.]
Luckily, my frustrations weren’t for naught. I have this story and some key takeaways for the world of the internet.
What You Need To Know
1. If you’re a Minnesota who will be filing M1PR: I highly recommend that you just go to MN Department of Revenue site and print the form and instructions. They are not too difficult to understand. Another option would be to use TurboTax’s forms and hand-correct the errors yourself. Besides the two errors previously mentioned, on line 5 if you are including income from a co-tenant/owner, you need to include their name. (TurboTax just lists “other person’s income,” but according to the M1PR instructions you need to include their name.)
2. Always double check your tax forms.
3. If there is a mistake, it’s probably not worth your time to call and try to explain the problem. Right now we’ve paid TurboTax over $140 for the two filings and I’ve wasted 2 hours of my evening trying to help them fix the problem.
Disclaimer: There may be other problems with the M1PR that I didn't catch. I am not an accountant and should not be relied upon for tax advice. I just read the tax forms and follow the instructions.
Have you ever found a major mistake in software? Did you try to help the company correct the problem?
At TurboTax, we take our commitment to helping our customers get their taxes done easily and accurately very seriously. We were recently made aware of the issue that you experienced while filing your Minnesota state tax return. We have corrected this issue and it will be available as an update by this Saturday, 3/13. However, I would like to correct one point you made. TurboTax handles line 5 of the Minnesota 2009 Property Tax Refund (M1PR) correctly. All that needs to be reported is the type of income, not the names of individuals.
At TurboTax we have a satisfaction guarantee and I apologize that our agent did not honor that commitment. I will ensure that your TurboTax fees are refunded promptly. Also, TurboTax has an accuracy guarantee that pays penalty and interest if our calculations are in error.
We have also recently increased staff in our customer service organization and now have significantly shorter wait times. As we approach the April 15 deadline, we will be adding even more staff to provide the responsiveness and quality all our customers deserve. We are also revising our escalation procedures for state-specific issues since agents cannot reasonably be expected to be knowledgeable in each state's unique laws and forms (as you learned from your experience).
I apologize that TurboTax did not meet your expectations this year. We value you as a customer and take your experience very seriously.