Among America's obscenities is the existence of its "tax-filing industry," wherein normal everyday folks pay through the nose to file their taxes. The corporate circus of rent-seeking and regulatory capture which enables it is firmly entrenched [Propublica], but one small part of it is being shut down: a judge ordered Intuit to stop falsely claiming that its TurboTax software is free of charge [Ars Technica]. The case took years to get to this point and years of appeals lie ahead.
According to Chappell's 242-page ruling, "the evidence proves that Intuit engaged in deceptive advertising in violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act." Intuit "advertised to consumers that they could file their taxes online for free using TurboTax, when in truth, for approximately two-thirds of taxpayers, the advertised claim was false," he wrote.The order said Intuit "must not represent that a good or service is 'Free'" unless it actually offers the good or service for free to all consumers, or "All the terms, conditions, and obligations upon which receipt and retention of the 'Free' good or service are contingent are set forth clearly and conspicuously at the outset of the offer so as to leave no reasonable probability that the terms of the offer might be misunderstood."Moreover, if an Intuit good or service is not free for most US taxpayers, that fact must be "disclosed clearly and conspicuously at the outset of any disclosures required" by the order. The order defines "clearly and conspicuously" in some detail.
For Intuit, less taxes, more death.