Making TurboTax.com Work on Linux (January 18th, 2005)

(TurboTax now works fine with FireFox on Linux. This post will remain here for historical purposes.)

I have using Intuit’s online version of TurboTax for the past few years to file my taxes. However, this was the first year I used it in Linux. Logically, since it is a web based application, I assumed that it will work fine under Linux. However, I was mistaken.

After going through the IRS FreeFile site I was redirected to Intuit’s own version of it called TaxFreedom.com. However, when I actually tried to start working on my taxes, I got the following message:

TurboTax for the Web does not work with the Web browser you are using. You must use one of the following supported browsers:

What followed was a list of various Internet Explorer versions and suprisngly Netscape and Safari. Armed with the knowledge that Mozilla’s browsers, I assumed that using the “User Agent Switching” feature in Opera would work. However, it still did not work.

Upon further digging with wget, I ran across a JavaScript file that TurboTax’s used to check browser versions. To my chagrin I found a comment inside the file stating that “Unix/Linux browsers are not supported”. On the brighter side, I also found support for FireFox. Knowing that FireFox is basically identical on all platforms, I decided to try using Chris Pederick’s UserAgent Switcher extension for FireFox. I loaded it into my browser, set the user agent to “IE on Windows XP” and voila it worked. For a moment. Unfortunatly, TurboTax really thought that I was using IE and it tried loading ActiveX which of course did not work. At this point I decided that the best solution is faking Firefox on Windows which is clearly supported from the JavaScript file. I tried it and it actually worked!

To get TurboTax to work on your system, do the following:
1. Install FireFox if you haven’t already (for RPMs check pbone.net).
2. Install the User Agent Switcher extension (if you get security warning, follow the prompts to add the site to your list of trusted site for installing software).
3. Restart FireFox, and go to “Tools”, “User Agent Switcher”, “Options”, “Options”. In the options box choose “User Agents” and click “Add” to add a new agent with the following settings:

Description: FireFox 1.0 (Windows XP)
User Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv:1.7.5) Gecko/20041109 Firefox/1.0
App Name: Netscape
App Version: 5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv:1.7.5) Gecko/20041109 Firefox/1.0
Platform: Win32

4. Install Adobe Acrobat Reader and connect it to FireFoxif you want to print your return (also see this).

Leave a comment on this post or email me (blog /at/ shaftek [.] org) if you have comments or problems.

UPDATE: There is a poll at the TurboTax website for Linux users.

UPDATE #2: The User Agent Switcher extension only works on Firefox, not on Netscape or Mozilla Suite (thanks for Marc Langille for the information).

UPDATE #3: A user running SimplyMAPIS v2004.06 with FireFox 1.0 reported that my instructions did not help – TurboTax just hangs there without going anywhere. If anyone else is experiencing the same symptoms, please email me at blog /at/ shaftek [dot] org.

UPDATE #4: A user running on SUSE v9.1 reported problems with these instructions. A different workaround that worked for him was changing the “prefs.js” file and adding the following:

user_pref(“general.useragent.override”, “Mozilla/5.0
Windows Firefox 1.0; Actually running Linux!”);

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