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The ftc is pressing ahead with its war on the free turbo tax the register


The FTC is pressing ahead with its allegations of false advertising against turbo tax maker Intuit after a brief pause in proceedings.

In May Intuitive asked [PDF] the American Consumer Protection Agency to drop its lawsuit. This was the same month the business agreed to pay $141 million to settle a breakup legal action brought by US states that had accused the company of doing so same thing the FTC investigated. Namely, unfairly advertising Turbo Tax as free to lure customers only to later get those people to pay for the tax filing service.

Since 1999, Intuit offered a free tax filing service for low-income earners in America; According to the FTC, the software maker has steadily reduced the number of those entitled to this free service. In an operation the FTC has dubbed “bait-and-switch,” Intuit waits for users to go through the lengthy process of entering their personal information, and then pressures or simply requests users to hand in the return for a fee.

This catches a lot of people who end up paying for the service just to get it over with. According to the FTC previously, two thirds of the people Filing taxes in 2020 were not eligible for Turbo Tax’s supposedly free tier of the product.

Intuit previously said its settlement with US states “provides the public with all the substantive relief that the FTC seeks to obtain through this action,” and urged the watchdog to “consider whether further litigation is in the public interest.” In other words, Intuit asked the FTC to just drop the matter.

No luck on that front, the regulator announced today. The FTC has ruled that Yes indeed [PDF]”The public interest warrants further litigation.”

Those of the FTC Complaint against Intuit was filed in March, seeking an injunction to force the turbo tax maker to end what the Feds saw as fraudulent practices.

“The commission is asking a federal court to immediately stop advertising Intuit and has also authorized the filing of an administrative complaint alleging that the company’s practices are illegal,” the regulator said at the time. However, that restraining order was denied in late April, prompting Intuit to ask the FTC to look into it a month later.

Now the FTC has brought the matter back for decision and scheduled an evidence hearing for March 27, 2023. Until then, both sides will have to spend time reassembling evidence and adding new materials since the FTC has cleared all discoveries brought forward before May 6, 2022.

For its part, Intuit is ready to keep fighting. In which Notice of Termination [PDF] Filing it with the FTC in May, the business said it “admitted no liability in the settlement and if necessary … will continue to defend its practices in this administrative proceeding.” ® The FTC is pressing ahead with its war on the ‘free’ turbo tax • The Register

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Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.