Warren accused TurboTax of deceiving users into paying for services that should be free in a letter to Intuit’s CEO.
Tax Day is here! Senator Elizabeth Warren believes you are being duped.
Warren, together with Reps. Katie Porter and Brad Sherman, wrote a letter to Intuit CEO Sasan Goodarzi criticising the company’s TurboTax tax-filing program’s prices. TurboTax, according to the congressmen, “scams American taxpayers into paying for services that should be free.”
The IRS’ Free File programme, through which TurboTax and other partners were meant to provide free tax preparation services to low-income Americans, is at the heart of their issue. However, lawmakers labelled the scheme a “failure” due to low participation, noting that Intuit exited the programme last year. According to the letter’s statistics, the programme was supposed to benefit 70% of Americans, but it barely served 3% as of 2018.
In light of ProPublica research that found TurboTax was inserting coding to its Free File site that prevented it from appearing in Google results, Warren, Porter, and Sherman hold TurboTax partially responsible. According to ProPublica, the corporation has since modified the code, but this did not appear to please Warren and her coworkers.
They said that Intuit’s “influence peddling” in Washington allowed these issues to go unnoticed. According to the letter, Intuit previously hired a former top IRS official as its chief tax officer, and it also engaged former FTC chair Jon Leibowitz to defend the business against a recent FTC complaint.
That lawsuit targets TurboTax’s “false” promises of free tax preparation, accusing the company of “disseminating the fraudulent claim that consumers can file their taxes for free using TurboTax,” when they frequently end up being charged. The FTC’s charges were deemed “not credible” by Intuit.
The lawmakers called the lawsuit “welcome and long overdue” in their letter.
Warren, Porter, and Sherman are now demanding answers from Intuit concerning its “revolving door” dealings with the IRS and other federal agencies. They urged Intuit to provide the number of workers and external partners it has worked with since 1999 who also held executive branch positions in the letter. They also questioned, “How many workers or partners have gone on to serve in the executive branch since 1999?” The lawmakers also want Intuit to reveal how much money company has made from taxpayers earning less than $73,000 every year since 1999.
Intuit has until May 2nd to respond.
But, in the end, the letter isn’t just looking for answers. It also wants to create awareness about the Tax Filing Simplification Act. It would provide Americans with a pre-filled tax return to sign and return in order to file their taxes. But don’t hold your breath; that bill has been bouncing about for years and only appears to gain any attention on Tax Day.
The letter is about receiving answers to questions as much as it is about pressuring companies to modify their methods without government intrusion, according to Warren. After all, the senator has a lengthy history of getting her way through letters.