Is the TurboTax era over? Recently, the IRS announced they plan to roll out a free program that will let Americans directly file their taxes online without using expensive tax-assistance programs. The move could have happened more than two decades ago, if not for corporate lobbyists. Today on Lever Time, we look at the 20-year war waged by tax-prep companies like Intuit and H&R Block to stop the government from letting people file online for free. 

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In the early 2000s, alarmed by calls from the George W. Bush White House to create a public tax filing platform, Intuit, the parent company of TurboTax, went on a lobbying blitz. The government agreed to back down, but only if tax-prep companies allowed low-income taxpayers to file for free. On paper, the tax-prep firms agreed — but in reality, they used deceptive tactics to manipulate taxpayers into paying for their software.

To read a transcript of this episode, click here.

▶️ Next week on Lever Time Premium, exclusively for paid subscribers: Guardian climate reporter Dharna Noor joins us to discuss Donald Trump’s plans to cut a deal with oil executives in exchange for raising a billion dollars for his campaign and the former president’s plans to gut a critical agency that could endanger Americans.