CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The company behind the TurboTax tax-filing program will pay $140 million to customers across the United States who were deceived by misleading promises of free tax-filing services, New York's attorney general announced Wednesday.
Among those customers were nearly 140,000 North Carolinians. Attorney General Josh Stein announced the state won more than $4 million from Intuit Inc., the owner of TurboTax, for deceiving North Carolinians into paying for tax services that were advertised as free.
New York Attorney General Letitia James said the California-based company will suspend its "free, free, free" ad campaign and pay restitution to nearly 4.4 million taxpayers nationwide.
“Intuit misled North Carolinians into paying for a service that they represented was free,” Stein said. “I’m pleased that nearly 140,000 North Carolinians who were affected will get back some of the money they unnecessarily paid to file their taxes. It doesn’t matter how big or small a company is – deception is not only unacceptable, it's against the law.”
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According to Stein's office, approximately 139,000 North Carolinians who filed their federal taxes through TurboTax in 2016 to 2018 are eligible for restitution and are expected to receive a direct payout of approximately $30 for each year they were deceived into paying for filing services.
Who qualifies for Intuit's TurboTax settlement?
If you live in North Carolina and are eligible for a payout, you will be notified automatically.
James said her investigation into Intuit was sparked by a 2019 ProPublica report that found the company was using deceptive tactics to steer low-income tax filers away from the federally supported free services for which they qualified — and toward its own commercial products, instead.
According to documents obtained by ProPublica, Intuit executives knew they were deceiving customers by advertising free services that were not in fact free to everyone.
“The website lists Free, Free, Free and the customers are assuming their return will be free,” an internal company PowerPoint presentation said. “Customers are getting upset.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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