Published on May 1st, 2019 | by Chuck31
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.