Posted by Chuck on May 1, 2019
Misc

Published on May 1st, 2019 | by Chuck

31

Complaints that TurboTax Hides the ‘Free-Filing’ Option; People Getting Refunds Upon Request

A reader sent in a tip about a complaint being made against TurboTax for hiding their Free-File option, and even tricking people into inputting all their information assuming free-file, only to be told at the end of the process that they need to pay. They also used some unethical tactics, like using code to block google from showing the free page in search results. And they used “Dark Patterns” which are user interface designs aimed at tricking users into doing things, to direct people into higher fee options.

Basically, there’s one designated web link where you can get the free file option, but if you use the standard TurboTax website there is no such option. They were baiting people into the paid web link, all while claiming this is the free option, only to tell you about the cost after you already spent time plugging in all the information.

Especially interesting, something I hadn’t been aware of, is that TurboTax specifically lobbied the IRS not to start a government-run free-filing service claiming that users can just use TurboTax or another service to file for free. That being the case, they certainly should not be hiding the free filing option.

That’s the gist of it. You can read more about it in this article from Propublica.org – I found the entire article there an interesting read. Here’s their follow-up article, and here’s a Reddit thread about this as well.

Luckily, it seems they’ve stopped the practice of hiding the free-file option from Google, though some of the other deception may still be around.

Another good thing is that people who would have been eligible for free-file are easily having success getting a refund on their fee. If you made under $34,000, you were likely eligible for the free-file. Try calling into 888-777-3066 and asking for a refund. You can mention the Prorepublica website and that might simplify the process.



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sam
sam

Totally not defending them…but HR Block has the same setup. I distinctly recall being down to the wire and then almost being charged….I knew I shouldn’t be and found a “free link” oh, if you use this free link now, be ready to put it all right back in and start over. Something to do with an HSA form I believe to get it to be free as well. If its income based, its pretty easy for these places to have your income considering….you use them to do your taxes…

Mimi
Mimi

>>You can reader more about it …>>

you can read more about it

Mark
Mark

but I wanna reader more about it!

Dan - Legal Bank Robber
Dan - Legal Bank Robber

Not surprised whatsoever.

Debit
Debit

If the refund you expected through turbotax is different than what IRS actually sends they are supposed to send you a letter explaining the difference. This comes within couple of weeks I am told. Have people any experience regarding this?

kevin
kevin

Yes, you make it all the way to ready to complete file and a fee pops up for doing so and their system would not let you go any further without paying. I went to IRS.gov and filed for free!

Sarah D
Sarah D

Intuit (Turbotax) lobbied against making an incredibly basic and unobjectionable change to tax preparation (the IRS sending out tax forms pre-filled, like every other civilized country), and are currently lobbying to make it illegal in the future. Consider not giving them business if possible.

86
86

H&R Block “also has lobbied on at least one bill related to return-free filing,” according to NPR.

HT
HT

Just tried to get my refund. Spent 30 minutes on the phone. They refused to give me my money back, saying that as of April 29th, Intuit had instructed them not to give refunds because the consumer should have recognized they should get it for free.

Deceptive advertising!

Jerry
Jerry

Deceptive advertising is an understatement. They were constantly running those silly and annoying TV commercials where all they said was free, free, free, free, free when it was not really free. Since the IRS prefers electronic filing they should have their own website with free filing regardless of your income level.

HT
HT

I had a 1099, so they charged me to use it. It’s so silly, because it basically wiped out a good portion of my work (between the TT fee and taxes on my 1099).

It’s so frustrating. I make next to nothing as a graduate student, so the fact that they would sit there and lie to me was outrageous. I filed a complaint with the BBB (not that I expect anything to happen).

Snorlax
Snorlax
HT
HT

Anyone know if HUCA would work?

Mendel Gordon
Mendel Gordon

1040.com does the same thing, they say all over that they give free filing but unless you use the free link they tell you at the end that you need to pay (or start over with the right link).

Burton
Burton

I think nearly every free file software has been doing this with various degrees of subtlety for 15+ years. For example when I used to qualify if you clocked the free link through IRS federal would be free but you had to pay for state. Only way to also get state free was to click link on my states DOR website.

bigotis
bigotis

In early April I went through TurboTax Tax refund calculator and it grossly overstated my refund. I had already prepared my refund on Credit Karma and had the refund figure, but just wanted to verify other tax prep software for a quick comparison. I then went to to another major tax prep software site, used their refund estimator and came to exactly the amount I had at CK. Really found it odd that TT would have such a high amount, and also thought it was probably trying to lure people into using TT for that much higher refund.

YD
YD

I think in that case a responsible act is to figure out why the refund was different among the 3 websites. Simply believing in the “majority” may not be the right path.

Roenz Aberin
Roenz Aberin

Honestly… Just use credit karma. Its completely free! The moment you start adding other documents other than W2 Turbo will hike up the price to the premium one. Its a waste of time.

Brandon
Brandon

I had 1099s and stuff. Still was free for me to use TT.

BigSexy
BigSexy

Had a couple W2s and 1099s and had no problem with their super secret link

Celia
Celia

I’ve never had Turbo Tax hike up the price and I’ve got way more than a couple 1099s for work, banks, brokerages, etc.

Frank
Frank

For all the non-profits in the world, why doesn’t anyone make free tax filing software available to everyone?

Seems like something Gates should be able to whip together at a reasonable price and save people billions

sonia
sonia

I paid for TT home business awhile back and I can still use it in 2019. I thought everyone did the same? :/

Sam E.
Sam E.

You bought a version of the software that gets updated for free each year??

Sam
Sam

It may be updated, but you can’t e-file.

Abe
Abe

That’s why I opted for Credit Karma to file taxes for free this year. I don’t want to pay money to pay Uncle Sam money.

JL
JL

I was only able to find the option this year by going on the IRS website (getting the link from there). If it wasn’t for the IRS website, I’m not sure how I would have found it. TurboTax did an amazing (amazingly-annoying) job of hiding it.

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