The TurboTax Trap

How the Tax Prep Industry Makes You Pay

ProPublica has long detailed how Intuit, the maker of TurboTax, and other companies have worked against making tax preparation easier and less costly. They have lobbied to ban the IRS from offering free, simple tax filing. And they have deceived customers who should qualify for the Free File product.

Featured

Inside TurboTax’s 20-Year Fight to Stop Americans From Filing Their Taxes for Free

Using lobbying, the revolving door and “dark pattern” customer tricks, Intuit fended off the government’s attempts to make tax filing free and easy, and created its multi-billion-dollar franchise.

Other Entries

The FTC Is Investigating Intuit Over TurboTax Practices

The probe, spurred by ProPublica reporting, centers on whether Intuit tricked customers into paying for tax filing when they should have been able to file for free.

Justice Department Is Scrutinizing Takeover of Credit Karma by Intuit, Maker of TurboTax

The antitrust probe comes after ProPublica detailed how the takeover could reduce competition in the tax prep business.

TurboTax and H&R Block Used “Unfair and Abusive Practices,” State Regulator Finds

The investigation, which is ongoing, came after a ProPublica series showed that millions of Americans were coerced into paying for tax filing they should get for free.

Senate Investigation Criticizes the IRS for Failing to Oversee Free Filing Program

Millions of Americans have spent billions on TurboTax and other tax prep that they shouldn’t have. The Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations recommends the IRS advertise the free filing option.

Millions of Americans Might Not Get Stimulus Checks. Some Might Be Tricked Into Paying TurboTax to Get Theirs.

Congress gave the IRS the job of sending out coronavirus rescue checks. But the underfunded agency is struggling, while for-profit companies like Intuit have started circling, hoping to convert Americans in need into paying customers.

TurboTax’s Bid to Buy Free Tax Prep Competitor Might Violate Antitrust Law, Experts Say

“Allowing a near-monopolist to eliminate a maverick competitor poses obvious risks of harm,” said one former DOJ lawyer of Intuit’s proposed Credit Karma acquisition. “It’s hard to imagine any reason why this should be allowed.”

TurboTax Is Still Tricking Customers With Tax Prep Ads That Misuse the Word “Free”

Intuit has amped up its misleading digital advertising in the wake of a new IRS agreement that bars tax prep companies from burying the agency’s Free File program.

TurboTax and Others Charged at Least 14 Million Americans for Tax Prep That Should Have Been Free, Audit Finds

Tax software companies made around $1 billion in revenue by charging people who were eligible to file for free.

IRS Reforms Free File Program, Drops Agreement Not to Compete With TurboTax

The changes come after ProPublica’s reporting showed how TurboTax maker Intuit tricked customers into paying for tax prep they could have gotten for free.

TurboTax Tricked Customers Into Paying to File Taxes. Now Several States Are Investigating It.

ProPublica revealed that TurboTax maker Intuit charged millions of Americans for tax filing services they were eligible to receive for free. Now multiple state attorneys general have opened investigations into the company.

The IRS Tried to Hide Emails That Show Tax Industry Influence Over Free File Program

After ProPublica sued the IRS, the agency released emails that show it has allowed the tax preparation industry to write the rules.

IRS-Funded Review Confirms TurboTax Hid Free Filing From Search Engines, but Says There’s No Need for Major Changes

An outside firm echoed ProPublica’s reporting but defended the oversight of the tax-prep program meant to help millions of Americans file their taxes for nothing.

Trump’s Tax Law Threatened TurboTax’s Profits. So the Company Started Charging the Disabled, the Unemployed and Students.

The move by TurboTax maker Intuit to charge more lower-income customers has helped boost revenue.

Congress Scraps Provision to Restrict IRS From Competing With TurboTax

The change comes after ProPublica highlighted the deceptive marketing practices of Intuit, the maker of TurboTax, and other major tax prep companies.

TurboTax Uses A “Military Discount” to Trick Troops Into Paying to File Their Taxes

Intuit, the maker of TurboTax, created and promoted a “military discount” that charges service members who are eligible to file for free.

Intuit CEO in Internal Video: Hiding Free TurboTax Was In “Best Interest of Taxpayers”

The video obtained by ProPublica shows the CEO defending the company as committed to “integrity without compromise.”

Did You Pay to Use TurboTax? Help Us Hold the Tax Prep Industry Accountable.

Readers have helped us figure out exactly how TurboTax maker Intuit and other companies make money off taxpayers. We want to hear more.

New York Regulator Launches Investigation Into TurboTax Maker Intuit and H&R Block

The agency is looking at whether the companies intentionally deceived customers by steering them away from Free File into paid products.

Listen to TurboTax Lie to Get Out of Refunding Overcharged Customers

TurboTax successfully lobbied to keep the IRS from offering free tax prep. Now it’s pretending the government already does it.

Senior IRS Leaders Launch Review of Agency’s Partnership With TurboTax and H&R Block

Both the IRS and its inspector general are investigating the partnership with the tax software industry in response to ProPublica’s reporting.

Follow ProPublica

Latest Stories from ProPublica