More Than 150,000 Pennsylvanians Duped by TurboTax Will Get a Refund

FILE - This Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019 file photo shows part of a 1040 federal tax form printed from the Internal Revenue Service website, in Zelienople, Pa. As the income tax filing deadline approaches, taxpayers will be facing unexpected tax situations brought about by the turbulent events of last year. Some taxpayers might get refunds and breaks they didn’t anticipate, while others could be paying more than they set aside. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File)

By Patrick Berkery

May 6, 2022

Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s office has reached a settlement with TurboTax’s parent company for tricking low-income Pennsylvanians into paying for services they believed were free.

If you used TurboTax to file your taxes from 2016 to 2018 you could be getting something you may not have received from the Internal Revenue Service: a refund.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s office has reached a settlement with TurboTax’s parent company, Intuit, for misleading taxpayers from 2016 to 2018. Shapiro’s office said the company manipulated search engine results and tricked low-income individuals and members of the military into thinking they could file for free, only to tell them they had to upgrade after spending hours filling out their information. 

For years, Intuit offered a free version of TurboTax through its participation in the IRS Free File Program, a public-private partnership with the IRS that provided free tax filing products to the military and taxpayers with an annual income of around $34,000 or less. 

“Intuit aggressively marketed a TurboTax Free Edition that in reality was hardly ever free,” Shapiro said in a statement. “They bid on paid search ads to drive consumers to their ‘freemium product’ and purposefully blocked their IRS-partnered Free File landing page from search engine results during the peak of Tax Year 2018, leading to many Pennsylvanians who could have filed for free having to pay to file instead.”

Under the multi-state settlement, more than 150,000 Pennsylvanians who used TurboTax’s Free Edition from 2016 through 2018, and were told they had to pay to file even though they were eligible to file for free, will get a refund of approximately $30 for each year they were misled.

Consumers eligible for a refund will automatically receive notices and a check by mail.

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