TurboTax Caught Scamming, Pays $141M Settlement: We Love To See It
Tax prep software companies are absolute two-faced crooks. They’re duplicitous scum that lobby Congress to make sure their software stays needed despite the fact that the government already has all the information they need to tell us what we owe, and then show up in commercials with a smile, telling us that they’re here to help. I don’t care how easy to use your software is, or how charismatic the fake CPA on your homepage looks, your software shouldn’t exist and you deal in stress and pain.
So, anytime one of the companies behind the big tax preparation software like TurboTax takes an L, I receive currents of joy through my spine. Today, my spine is absolutely VIBRATING reading that Intuit, the maker of TurboTax, just paid out $141 million in a settlement for deceptive business tactics. Even better, the thing that got them in trouble is the exact sleazy base of their entire business model.
What did they do? Well, they offered a version of their software called TurboTax Free Edition. Unfortunately, they kinda violated, like, the absolute number one rule of free stuff: it can’t cost money. It was only after doing hours of not only work, but MATH that users would come to the final step, where Turbotax Free Edition informed them how much it was going to cost to file their taxes.
It gets even worse: what TurboTax was possibly trying to do was to game Google results and get customers searching for “free tax filing” so that they could get to the IRS Free File program, a program for lower-income taxpayers that allows them to file for free. The kind of free that doesn’t cost any money. As you might imagine, tax preparation companies do not like Free File, because it edges in on their business of providing something people have to do or they go to jail, where they can basically set their own pricing.
So, not happy with the base level of pain they’ve caused through lobbying and holding back an easy, free, and convenient tax season, they then attempted to game the single, lonely lifeline thrown to a drowning public. I just wish I could watch them print, seal and mail $30 to everybody they defrauded in person. That, I’d probably pay for.