The Federal Trade Commission said Tuesday that Intuit’s advertising, claiming that TurboTax tax prep software is free, is misleading.

  • And, as a result, the FTC said it will ask a federal court to order the company to stop “disseminating the deceptive claim that consumers can file their taxes for free using TurboTax.”

Details: Per the FTC, the TurboTax ads “have consisted almost entirely of the word ‘free’ spoken repeatedly,” which makes people believe they can file taxes for free.

  • As many will understand, many Americans will spend time putting all of their information into TurboTax. Then, in order to file, they need to upgrade to a paid product, per NPR.
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Yes, but: “In fact, most tax filers can’t use the company’s ‘free’ service because it is not available to millions of taxpayers, such as those who get a 1099 form for work in the gig economy, or those who earn farm income,” the FTC said in a press release.

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The other side: Intuit said in a statement it will challenge the FTC’s lawsuit.

  • “Far from steering taxpayers away from free tax preparation offerings, our free advertising campaigns have led to more Americans filing their taxes for free than ever before and have been central to raising awareness of free tax prep,” Kerry McLean, Intuit’s executive vice president and general counsel, said in a statement.
  • There’s also a disclaimer at the end of the Intuit ads that say the free return is limited to anyone with “simple” returns, according to NPR.
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