Justin Elliott
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Here’s How TurboTax Just Tricked You Into Paying to File Your Taxes

Here’s How TurboTax Just Tricked You Into Paying to File Your Taxes

ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that reports on abuses of power. to receive our best stories as soon as they’re published.Did you know that if you make less than $66,000 a year, you can prepare and file your taxes for free?No? That’s no accident. Companies that make tax preparation software, like Intuit, the maker of TurboTax, would rather you didn’t know.Intuit and other tax software companies have to make sure that the IRS doesn’t offer its own tax preparation and filing service. In exchange, the companies have entered into an agreement with the IRS to offer a “Free File” product to...

April 22, 2019
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Sheryl Sandberg and Top Facebook Execs Silenced an Enemy of Turkey to Prevent a Hit to the Company’s Business

Sheryl Sandberg and Top Facebook Execs Silenced an Enemy of Turkey to Prevent a Hit to the Company’s Business

ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Sign up to receive as soon as they’re published.As Turkey launched a military offensive against Kurdish minorities in neighboring Syria in early 2018, Facebook’s top executives faced a political dilemma.Turkey was demanding the social media giant block Facebook posts from the People’s Protection Units, a mostly Kurdish militia group the Turkish government had targeted. Should Facebook ignore the request, as it has done elsewhere, and risk losing access to tens of millions of users in Turkey? Or should it silence the...

Feb 24
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All a Gig-Economy Pioneer Had to Do Was “Politely Disagree” It Was Violating Federal Law and the Labor Department Walked Away

All a Gig-Economy Pioneer Had to Do Was “Politely Disagree” It Was Violating Federal Law and the Labor Department Walked Away

ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Sign up to receive as soon as they’re published.Ten years ago, the Department of Labor wrapped up a lengthy investigation of Arise Virtual Solutions, a company that recruited customer service agents to work from home fielding calls for big brand names like Disney and AAA. The so-called gig economy was in its infancy, with Uber launching and TaskRabbit starting to go national.The question for the Obama administration’s Labor Department: Did Arise employ those customer service agents? Arise trained the agents and exercised...

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Jan 23
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Philadelphia Denies Trump Campaign Allegation of Banning Republican Poll Watchers

Philadelphia Denies Trump Campaign Allegation of Banning Republican Poll Watchers

ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Sign up to receive as soon as they’re published. Having issues voting? You can or read .Philadelphia officials are denying a Trump campaign operative’s allegation that Republican poll watchers are being excluded from voting sites around the city.Mike Roman, the Trump campaign’s national Election Day operations director, a video early Tuesday morning that appears to show a Republican poll watcher being turned away from a polling place in the city.Roman added: “DEMOCRAT ELECTION OFFICIALS BANNING TRUMP POLL WATCHERS IN...

Nov 4
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Susan Collins Backed Down From a Fight with Private Equity. Now They’re Underwriting Her Reelection.

Susan Collins Backed Down From a Fight with Private Equity. Now They’re Underwriting Her Reelection.

ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Sign up to receive as soon as they’re published.This story is co-published with Politico.In late November 2017, Senate Republicans were racing to secure the votes for their sweeping tax overhaul. With no Democrats supporting the bill and even some Republicans , , the Maine Republican, found herself with enormous leverage.The day before the vote, she offered an amendment to make the legislation, which lavished tax cuts on corporations and the wealthy, more equitable. It expanded a tax credit to make child care more...

Oct 30
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DOJ Frees Federal Prosecutors to Take Steps That Could Interfere With Elections, Weakening Long-standing Policy

DOJ Frees Federal Prosecutors to Take Steps That Could Interfere With Elections, Weakening Long-standing Policy

ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Sign up to receive as soon as they’re published.The Department of Justice has weakened its long-standing prohibition against interfering in elections, according to two department officials.Avoiding election interference is the of DOJ policy on voting-related crimes. In place since at least 1980, the policy generally bars prosecutors not only from making any announcement about ongoing investigations close to an election but also from taking public steps — such as an arrest or a raid — before a vote is finalized because the...

Oct 8
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The Justice Department May Have Violated Attorney General Barr’s Own Policy Memo

The Justice Department May Have Violated Attorney General Barr’s Own Policy Memo

ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Sign up to receive as soon as they’re published.When the Justice Department recently publicized an ongoing investigation into potentially improperly discarded Trump ballots, critics accused it of violating long-standing agency policy against interfering in an election.But the unusual decision to publicly detail the Pennsylvania case may also have run afoul of guidelines that Attorney General William Barr himself issued to federal prosecutors this year, according to a memo obtained by ProPublica.In May, to all Justice...

Oct 6
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Meet the Customer Service Reps for Disney and Airbnb Who Have to Pay to Talk to You

Meet the Customer Service Reps for Disney and Airbnb Who Have to Pay to Talk to You

ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Sign up to receive as soon as they’re published.This story is co-published with .Airbnb, battered by the pandemic recession, announced in May that it would be laying off a quarter of its workforce. In a post for its empathy and transparency, CEO Brian Chesky , “We will have to part with teammates that we love and value.” He outlined a generous severance package. Departing employees would receive 14 weeks of pay plus an extra week for each year at the company; help from professional recruiters to land new jobs; and 12...

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Oct 3
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FEMA Had a Plan for Responding to a Hurricane in Puerto Rico - But It Doesn’t Want You to See It

FEMA Had a Plan for Responding to a Hurricane in Puerto Rico - But It Doesn’t Want You to See It

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, citing unspecified “potentially sensitive information,” is declining to release a document it drafted several years ago that details how it would respond to a major hurricane in Puerto Rico.The plan, known as a hurricane annex, runs more than 100 pages and explains exactly what FEMA and other agencies would do in the event that a large storm struck the island. The document could help experts assess both how well the federal government had prepared for a storm the size of Hurricane Maria and whether FEMA’s response matches what was planned. The agency...

October 28, 2017
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Lord of the Roths: How Tech Mogul Peter Thiel Turned a Retirement Account for the Middle Class Into a $5 Billion Tax-Free Piggy Bank

Lord of the Roths: How Tech Mogul Peter Thiel Turned a Retirement Account for the Middle Class Into a $5 Billion Tax-Free Piggy Bank

ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. The Secret IRS Files is an ongoing reporting project. Also: do you have expertise in tax law, accounting or wealth management?Billionaire Peter Thiel, a founder of PayPal, has publicly condemned “confiscatory taxes.” He’s been a major funder of one of the most prominent anti-tax political action committees in the country. And he’s bankrolled a group that promotes building floating nations that would impose no compulsory income taxes.But Thiel doesn’t need a man-made island to avoid paying taxes. He has something just as...

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Sep 6
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