Nothing is ever free, even free tax preparation by TurboTax

By Michael Lodge on January 31, 2024

Michael Lodge - The Business Advisor - 424.542.7299 - Recently, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) made a significant ruling regarding Intuit, the creator of the popular tax-filing software TurboTax. The FTC has mandated that Intuit cease marketing its services as "free" unless they are genuinely free for all users or unless any exceptions to the free service are clearly disclosed. This ruling comes in response to years of TurboTax advertising claiming that customers could file their taxes online for free, despite the fact that the free product was only available to a minority of taxpayers. The FTC's opinion and final order, issued on Monday, stated that this advertising was deceptive, as it did not accurately represent the accessibility of the free service to the majority of taxpayers. This ruling aims to ensure transparency and truthfulness in the marketing of tax-filing services, providing consumers with clearer and more accurate information about their options.

The ruling serves as a reminder to all tax firms, not just TurboTax, regarding the importance of transparent fee disclosure. In addition to the FTC's actions, all tax firms are required to clearly post their fees in physical signage or on their websites. This requirement aims to empower taxpayers to make informed decisions about which tax preparation service to use, based on a clear understanding of the associated costs. As tax season is now here, it is crucial for individuals to be aware of these regulations and to carefully review the fees associated with any tax preparation service they consider using. By understanding the true costs of filing their taxes, consumers can make more informed choices and avoid any potential misunderstandings or surprises related to fees.

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