DOJ secures $2,370,000 for Wisconsin Turbo Tax filers.

Byline: Ali Teske

The Wisconsin Department of Justice has secured $2,370,000 from the owner of TurboTax, Intuit Inc., for deceiving consumers into paying for tax services that should have been free.

The announcement came Thursday as a result of a multistate effort, led by New York and Tennessee. Intuit will pay restitution to millions of consumers across the nation who were unfairly charged. An investigation began after ProPublica reported that the company was using deceptive digital tactics to steer low-income consumers toward its commercial products and away from federally supported free tax services with their "free, free, free" ad campaigns.

The investigation found that Intuit engaged in several deceptive and unfair trade practices that limited consumers' participation in the IRS Free File Program. According to the investigation, the company used similar names for both its IRS Free File product and its commercial "freemium" product. Intuit also bid on paid search advertisements to direct consumers who were looking for the IRS Free File product to the TurboTax "freemium" product instead. Intuit also purposefully blocked its IRS Free File landing page from search engine results during the 2019 tax filing season, effectively shutting out eligible taxpayers from filing their taxes for free. Its website included a "Products and Pricing" page that stated it would "recommend the right tax solution," but never displayed or recommended the IRS Free File program, even when consumers were ineligible for the "freemium" product.

"More than 76,000 Wisconsinites ended up paying for tax preparation products that were marketed as being 'free,'" said Attorney General Josh Kaul in...

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