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Thousands of Mississippians may have been deceived by TurboTax

Image courtesy of the Internal Revenue Service

Over 35-thousand Mississippians were tricked into paying TurboTax filing services that should have been free. Attorney General Lynn Fitch has secured over $1-million from their owner, Intuit, in a multistate agreement that includes all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Intuit will pay $141-million in restitution to consumers across the country, and they’ll have to suspend TurboTax’s “free, free, free” ad campaign that lured customers in with promises of free tax preparation services, only to deceive them into paying for services.

“Over 35,000 Mississippians were misled into paying for tax filing services that should have been free,” said Attorney General Lynn Fitch. “And the deceived consumers were primarily those who could least afford to make this unnecessary payment. I am pleased that with this settlement, not only will those consumers get back some of their money, but Intuit will put an end to its deceptive marketing practices.”

A multistate investigation found that Intuit was using deceptive digital tactics to steer low-income consumers toward its commercial products and away from federally-supported free tax services. Intuit has offered two free versions of TurboTax. One was through its participation in the IRS Free File Program, a public-private partnership with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which allows taxpayers earning roughly $34,000 and members of the military to file their taxes for free. In addition, Intuit offers a commercial product called “TurboTax Free Edition,” which is only free for taxpayers with “simple returns” as defined by Intuit. In recent years, TurboTax has marketed this “freemium” product aggressively. However, the TurboTax “freemium” product is only free for approximately one-third of US taxpayers. In contrast, the TurboTax IRS Free File product was free for 70 percent of taxpayers. Intuit withdrew from the IRS Free File program in July 2021.
Affected customers will automatically receive notices and a check through the mail.
Mississippi consumers who believe they are eligible but do not receive notification should contact the Attorney General’s Office Consumer Protection Division at 601-359-3680 or consumer@ago.ms.gov.

 

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