“Simply Put: Garbage In, Garbage Out”

Those are the immortal words of the Tax Court, in the matter of Brenda F. Bartlett (TC Memo 2012-254, September 4, 2012).

Seems Ms. Bartlett prepared her own tax return for 2008 – using the famous TurboTax software – and managed to understate her tax liability by about $44,000, largely due to an understatement (over $100,000) of a pension distribution.

The taxpayer acknowledged the errors, but maintained that she reported all of her income and that the mistakes made were “honest mistakes” resulting from her lack of familiarity with the TurboTax program.  She further claimed that she used the audit portion of the TurboTax program, believing the audit portion would catch any mistakes she otherwise might make.

Needless to say, the Court was unimpressed, noting that TurboTax is only as good as the information entered.  As such, the taxpayer did not qualify for any reasonable cause relief for any portion of the resulting underpayment.