Wednesday, September 16, 2020
Following up on my previous post, Here’s How TurboTax Just Tricked You Into Paying To File Your Taxes: ProPublica, The FTC Is Investigating Intuit Over TurboTax Practices:
The Federal Trade Commission has been investigating Intuit and its marketing of TurboTax products, following ProPublica’s reporting that the Silicon Valley company deceived tax filers into paying when they could have filed for free.
The FTC probe, run out of the commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, centers on whether Intuit violated the law against unfair and deceptive practices in commerce. One focus of the investigation is whether TurboTax marketing misdirected customers who were eligible to file their taxes for free into paid products.
The investigation, which has been underway for more than a year, was revealed publicly in a recent Intuit filing in which the company’s lawyers appealed to the commission to limit the scope of its investigation.
Intuit produced half a million pages of documents in response to the FTC’s first civil investigative demand — a kind of subpoena — last year. The request for records came after ProPublica’s reporting on how Intuit used a variety of tactics to divert customers away from a free TurboTax product and toward paid versions. Under a longstanding agreement with the IRS called Free File, Intuit and other tax prep companies promised to offer free products to most Americans; in exchange, the IRS agreed not to create a free government tax filing option that would compete with the industry. ...
The escalating fight over company records suggests that the FTC has significant concerns about Intuit’s conduct, according to David Vladeck, a former head of the Bureau of Consumer Protection and a professor at Georgetown Law.