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I wrote a few scripts to help with doing my US Federal taxes this year. To do things like estimating sales tax and parsing information from 1099 forms. I wanted to post this code on GitHub in case someone else might find it useful. However, I'm worried that since I am not a CPA, this could be illegal. I was planning to release it under MIT because of this clause:

THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED "AS IS", WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND NONINFRINGEMENT. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHORS OR COPYRIGHT HOLDERS BE LIABLE FOR ANY CLAIM, DAMAGES OR OTHER LIABILITY, WHETHER IN AN ACTION OF CONTRACT, TORT OR OTHERWISE, ARISING FROM, OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE SOFTWARE OR THE USE OR OTHER DEALINGS IN THE SOFTWARE.

Which seems like it would cover my liability in case there are any errors with the calculations. I'm concerned though that although my code isn't actually completing any forms, I could be breaking some laws or regulations regarding taxes by posting it online.

Is anyone aware whether or not I am allowed to release tax-related scripts open source? Do I need to add any additional disclaimers?

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    This depends on your jurisdiction – some liabilities cannot be disclaimed, and you might still be subject to various regulations. I think this is more of a law question than about open source. – amon Mar 8 '18 at 19:02
  • @amon Alright, I'll try the legal SE later. – Rob Rose Mar 8 '18 at 23:14
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's about the liability of perceived financial advise, not about the distribution of the source code. law.stackexchange.com would be a better place for it. – Mureinik Mar 9 '18 at 7:19
  • I think that this is a good question as this applies to open source alright – Philippe Ombredanne Mar 12 '18 at 17:27
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I'm concerned though that although my code isn't actually completing any forms, I could be breaking some laws or regulations regarding taxes by posting it online.

I am not aware of any such law. But if your concern is about providing legal or financial advice through this software without having a proper "professional license" that could be a requirement in some jurisdictions (may be in the US?) then you could alright provide an extra disclaimer beyond that of your license to this effect. This is uncommon but could have a purpose. Yet I doubt that software of its own could be considered ass giving any advice whatsoever.

  • Alright, thanks. I'll probably just add an additional disclaimer that the code isn't tax advice. Holding off on accepting this for a couple days though in case anyone else has an answer. – Rob Rose Mar 13 '18 at 18:30
  • A simple disclaimer would be all you need alright IMHO. Simple is best. And with this you really get belt, suspenders and a safety pin ;) – Philippe Ombredanne Mar 13 '18 at 22:33

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