On May 6, 2019, our Office filed a consumer protection lawsuit on behalf of Californians against Intuit (maker of TurboTax) alleging that Intuit misled consumers eligible for free tax filing under the IRS’s "Free File Program" into unnecessarily purchasing online tax filing services.
Did you know:
Intuit’s Free File product (now known as the "IRS Free File Program delivered by TurboTax," formerly known as the "TurboTax Free File Program" or TurboTax "Freedom Edition") allows lower-income taxpayers (this year anyone with an adjusted gross income (AGI) of $36,000 or less, or up to $69,000 for active duty military) to file their taxes for free, regardless of tax return complexity. That product can be accessed only at https://freefile.intuit.com.
TurboTax "Free Edition" allows taxpayers of any income level who have only simple tax returns with no additional schedules to file their taxes for free, and prompts all other taxpayers to upgrade to one of Intuit’s paid TurboTax products (Deluxe, Premier, or Self-Employed)—even if they’re eligible for Intuit’s Free File offering.
Our lawsuit alleges that Intuit confused consumers seeking free ways to file and steered them away from the Free File program by marketing its "Free Edition" product as "free guaranteed," while failing to adequately explain that "Free Edition" is NOT its Free File product. We further allege that Intuit encouraged consumers eligible for its Free File product (but not able to file using "Free Edition") to instead purchase paid products they didn’t really need.
Our lawsuit seeks an injunction to stop Intuit from engaging in the alleged deceptive business practices, as well as refunds for anyone in California who was a victim of the alleged practices and who, despite being eligible for the Free File program, unnecessarily paid money to Intuit for tax preparation and filing services at any time since May 2015.
If you believe that this describes you, and you are interested in sharing your experience with the City Attorney's Office, please e-mail email@example.com with your name, phone number, the best time to reach you, and a brief description of your experience. You can also call our dedicated consumer hotline at 833-975-2555.
Am I affected by this lawsuit? How do I participate in this lawsuit?
Our lawsuit is a law enforcement action brought on behalf of the People of the State of California. This is not a class action, and the Office of the Los Angeles City Attorney does not represent anyone individually in this case. However, one form of relief we are seeking is restitution for all Californians who paid money to TurboTax at any time since May 2015 who were in fact eligible at the time to file for free under the IRS’s Free File program based on their income level. If this describes you, then you may be affected by our lawsuit if we are able to obtain a favorable judgment.
If you live outside California and have not lived within California at any time since May 2015, our lawsuit does not seek restitution for money you may have paid. However, if you believe you have been wronged by TurboTax’s business practices, you may want to consider contacting your own state’s consumer protection agencies.
How do I know if I should have been able to file my taxes for free?
If your adjusted gross income (AGI) for Tax Year 2019 was $69,000 or less, you are eligible this year to file for free under the IRS’s Free File program. The income eligibility cutoff was slightly lower in previous years.
I've been paying TurboTax for years. Can I get all my money back? Why does the lawsuit only cover purchases since May 2015?
The lawsuit only seeks refunds for people in California who were eligible to file for free under the IRS’s Free File program but unnecessarily paid TurboTax at any time since May 2015.
The refund portion of the lawsuit only covers purchases since May 2015 because the California law we have sued under has a four-year statute of limitations. However, we are also seeking an injunction that would permanently bar TurboTax from deceiving people in these ways in the future.
How do I get my refund? When will I get my refund?
The lawsuit is still in the early stages, and litigation is a very long process with a lot of uncertainty. We will prosecute this lawsuit vigorously, but we cannot guarantee what the outcome of our lawsuit will be. If and when we reach a favorable resolution that involves payment of refunds to customers, and if you are eligible for a refund, then you will be notified.
I recently received an e-mail notice about this lawsuit regarding my privacy rights. What was that notice about, and why did I receive it?
If you recently received an e-mail notice about the TurboTax lawsuit, it is because according to Intuit’s records, you may have been eligible in Tax Year 2016, 2017, or 2018 to file your taxes for free using Intuit’s Free File offering, but you instead filed your taxes using one of Intuit’s paid TurboTax products. We requested that Intuit provide us your contact information so that we can communicate with you about the lawsuit, but to protect your privacy rights, the parties agreed to first give you notice of the request and an opportunity to object if you do not want Intuit to disclose your contact information to us. If you do not want your contact information disclosed to our Office, you must follow the instructions in the e-mail notice for objecting.
If you did not receive an e-mail notice, it does not necessarily mean you are not covered by our lawsuit. The e-mail notice was only sent to a subgroup of people covered by our lawsuit.
The e-mail notice I received mentioned that my contact information might also be shared with the County of Santa Clara County Counsel. Why?
The County of Santa Clara County Counsel filed a similar consumer protection lawsuit against Intuit in September 2019, based on similar allegations to those made in the lawsuit brought by the Office of the Los Angeles City Attorney. The two lawsuits have been coordinated in Los Angeles Superior Court under the name TurboTax Free Filing Cases, case number JCCP No. 5067, and our two Offices are cooperating with one another in prosecuting these cases on behalf of the People of the State of California. If you do not object to the disclosure of your contact information to us, you might be contacted by someone from either of our Offices.
I want to take legal action on my own. Can I do so?
If you wish to take action on your own, our lawsuit does not bar you from doing so.
Please note that we are unable to provide individualized legal advice.
Again - our consumer hotline for this case is 833-975-2555. You can also e-mail us at
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