Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, and Reps. Katie Porter and Brad Sherman, both Democrats from California, want information from Intuit Inc, the maker of TurboTax tax preparation software, about how much money the company makes off of low- and middle-income filers, and information about how many Intuit employees previously worked for federal agencies.
In a public letter sent Monday addressed to Intuit CEO Sasan Goodarzi, the trio accused the company of misleading consumers and using former government officials to shield it from government action. The Federal Trade Commission recently sued the company over its advertisements for free filing services, claiming deceptive practices.
The Democrats asked Intuit to provide information on the amount of money it makes from taxpayers who make $73,000 or below and would thus be eligible for free filing, and how many government officials it has employed since 1999.
“Intuit deliberately hid its IRS Free File program from Google results using ‘dark 9 patterns’ — adding code into the website to suppress results, and instead pushing taxpayers into their in-house ‘freemium’ edition where they could be tricked into paying into services that should be free under Free File,” they wrote.
“We are clear and fair with our customers and open and transparent about our advertising practices, and our participation in the Free File program was done in compliance and with the oversight of the IRS,” Intuit spokesperson Derrick Plummer said in an emailed statement. “We are reviewing the letter from Sen. Warren and other policymakers and will respond.”