COLUMBUS, Ohio — Editor's note: The video above is from an unrelated tax story published on April 18, 2022.
The company behind the tax service software TurboTax will pay $5 million to Ohio consumers who were deceived into paying for services that should have been free.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost secured the restitution for affected Ohio residents from the pool of $141 million Intuit Inc. will pay to consumers nationwide.
“Intuit’s scheme to make a buck by tricking responsible Ohio taxpayers is unacceptable,” Yost said. “We are holding Intuit accountable and putting money back into consumers’ pockets.”
ProPublica initially reported that Intuit was using deceptive digital tactics to steer low-income consumers of the software to paid products and away from free services that are federally supported. That's when the investigation began.
The company was also found to aggressively push it's product called "TurboTax Free Edition" which is only free to a small portion of taxpayers with "simple returns" as defined by Intuit. In their advertising campaigns their use of "free" was sometimes the only selling point without adequately disclosing eligibility requirements to consumers.
According to the Attorney General's office, only a third of U.S. taxpayers qualify for TurboTax's free product compared to 70% of Americans that qualify for the IRS Free File program.
TurboTax's website included a "Products and Pricing" page that stated it would "recommend the right tax solution" to consumers, but never recommended the IRS Free File program.
Intuit withdrew from the Free File program in July 2021 and has agreed not to rejoin the program in the future. Under the settlement, Intuit has agreed to reform its practices and become more transparent to their customers.
Editor's note: The video above is from a previous story on taxes published on January 7, 2022.