US FTC wins administrative ruling in deceptive advertising case against Intuit -- company

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Federal Trade Commission won an administrative ruling against TurboTax tax software maker Intuit after the commission said the company misled consumers with deceptive advertisements pitching "free" tax filing products that millions of consumers were unable to use, the company said on Friday.

Intuit said it will appeal the decision, saying it is "confident that when the matter ultimately returns to a neutral body Intuit will prevail, as it has previously in this matter".

In April 2022, a U.S. judge refused an FTC request to block Intuit from running ads for "free" tax filing products.

In May 2022, Intuit agreed to pay $141 million in restitution to settle claims by all 50 U.S. states and Washington, D.C., that it tricked millions of customers into buying TurboTax products that the company advertised as "free".

The settlement resolved claims that Intuit steered at least 4.4 million customers, many with low incomes, into buying its tax preparation products despite the customers eligibility for free electronic filing through the Internal Revenue Service.

The settlement also required the largest U.S. online tax preparer to suspend ads containing slogans such as "TurboTax Free is free. Free free free free".

Consumers who were part of the settlement began receiving payments in May, the New York Attorney General's Office said.

The Mountain View, California-based company admitted no wrongdoing.

Intuit already adheres to most of the advertising practices in the FTC’s decision, the company said on Friday, adding: "there is no monetary penalty, and Intuit expects no significant impact to its business". It said it has "has been clear, fair, and transparent with its customers and is committed to free tax preparation".

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Leslie Adler)