Has TaxCut adopted AOL's marketing scheme?
January 29, 2006 1:23 PM   Subscribe

I received an unsolicited copy of TaxCut in the mail. Has anyone else? Am I just lucky, or is something up?

I've used TaxCut for the last few years after TurboTax let me down. I buy the software every year because you can always find a store that's selling the software for the same price as the rebate you get. I hate rebates, though, that you have to mail in. It seems to me that if TaxCut is going to end up rebating my money, then why even sell it to me in the first place. Just give it to me free.

Well, a few weeks ago a copy of TaxCut Deluxe and State ended up in my mailbox. It was't the normal paper box with the jewl case inside. It was the plastic CD-ROM case. It did say "Welcome Back" on the front as part of the label - if I had a scanner, I'd include a picture. It appears to be legitimate software. I can't find any charges on any of my credit cards, so I didn't accidentially buy it. So, has TaxCut finally come around to my way of thinking?

Has anyone else received a free copy of the software? Is it because of yearly loyalty? I couldn't find anything on the TaxCut site.
posted by clearlynuts to Computers & Internet (16 answers total)
My roommate got one. I don't know why.
posted by aubilenon at 1:26 PM on January 29, 2006

Have you tried to use it yet? I imagine you'll be charged then, at the very least for e-filing, but most likely they'll ask you to buy a license for the software as well.
posted by TonyRobots at 1:29 PM on January 29, 2006

Tax prep software is usually free-after-rebate at office supply stores this time of year, so it's not really so surprising.
posted by rxrfrx at 1:31 PM on January 29, 2006

I got one, too. I haven't tried using it. I'm sure it includes an option to e-file through their service, which they undoubtably charge for.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 1:51 PM on January 29, 2006

You can download TaxCut for free (just skip adding state and remove the $4.99 "download protection" from your cart). It actually lets you print out a real 1040 you can file with; no e-file for free, of course. I just used it to double-check the taxes I did with another program.

There are other ways to file for free, including e-file. Check out the IRS's Free File program. For most on the list you'll have to meet certain requirements. I believe TaxAct is free for all, though.
posted by zsazsa at 2:12 PM on January 29, 2006

They're probably absorbing the cost of the software, rebates or not. So, why not send a new version to an established user? You get something for nothing, so it feels like a deal. Hey, since you don't have to wait for that rebate, and it's so much easier, why not pay for the e-filing? It's not terribly expensive, and this does make it so much easier...

It's a bit like the old shareware concept. Give out the basics, and sell the frills.
posted by Saydur at 2:49 PM on January 29, 2006

Best answer: I work for a company that contacts with H&R Block / Taxcut.

These are free CDs that they are using as an incentive to get people to use the software. You can try it for free and if you like it, buy it.

No obligations or anything. Basically just trialware on a disc.
posted by BradNelson at 3:50 PM on January 29, 2006

err...contracts with...not contacts
posted by BradNelson at 3:51 PM on January 29, 2006

I should add...if you're not prompted at all to purchase it, you may be one of the very lucky few who got the full software for free. But the odds are slim.
posted by BradNelson at 3:52 PM on January 29, 2006

I've used H&R Block for many years and I didn't get any free software in the mail.

/me is a sad panda.
posted by drstein at 4:00 PM on January 29, 2006

Best answer: I believe this is the same mailing as the one I recently received, after using TaxCut for several years. The disc is "free", but its use requires payment of $29.95, for both the federal and one state return. From the FAQ on the CD:

Q: I received a TaxCut CD in the mail that I didn't order. Why was it sent?

A: To make it easier than ever for our valued customers to purchase TaxCut software, we've sent this CD directly to you. Don't worry: You'll only be charged for this product if you provide your credit card number and complete the purchase process.
posted by Snerd at 5:02 PM on January 29, 2006

There's a CD of TaxCut inside the Feb 06 issue of PC World.
posted by Guy Smiley at 7:48 PM on January 29, 2006

Yes, they give away the software so that you'll e-file through their service, which is a pretty lucrative deal for them ($20 bucks for what's basically one specially-formatted e-mail).

They also hope you'll sign on for one or more of their product upgrades, including a Refund Anticipation Loan (which is an obscenely overpriced bit of credit), Simple Pay (which takes their fee out of your refund, instead of a separate transaction -- for a $20 "convenience" fee!), or EZ Pay (which lets them be the middleman between the IRS and your bank on catching up with any tax you owe, again for a sweet handling fee).

As with razors, it's likely they're making more on the blades than on the thing that holds the blades. It's also a certainty that H&R Block makes more money per customer and pays less in salary versus the in-person tax preparation they built their reputation (such as it is) on.

Their seasonal, commission-paid preparers are basically skilled at data entry and not a whole lot more. Keeping those offices open is expensive. Doing the tax service as a variety of tech support is much more labor-efficient for H&R.
posted by dhartung at 8:37 PM on January 29, 2006

I received one, hadn't used H & R Block for a few years (they royally screwed up my taxes). Gave it to a friend, all was good until they loaded it and then found out there is a charge to use it. It only looks free.
posted by 6:1 at 9:50 PM on January 29, 2006

Response by poster: Sure enough, it's not free. It appears to be the same deal they push on their website. Damn.
posted by clearlynuts at 5:44 AM on January 30, 2006

Remember, the nature of tax software being what it is, AND most of us being creatures of habit, they are investing in customer acquisition (YOU!) hoping that you will become a loyal TaxCut user year after year.

It's nice to see that some companies actually want new customers (unlike Intuit, the maker of TurboTax) which is going out of its way to alienate and drive away customers.
posted by apark at 4:33 PM on January 31, 2006

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