Today, millions of Americans filed their 2021 income taxes; Sen Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is demanding answers from Intuit about its popular TurboTax e-filling product. A letter was written to Intuit CEO Sasan K. Goodarzi, where Warren said that company had used extensive lobbying and adroit influence peddling to stop Americans from filing their taxes for free online.
In March, The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed suit against Intuit for ambiguous marketing tactics. Warren calls this “both welcome and long overdue.” Reps Brad Sherman (D-CA) and Katie Porter (D-CA) also signed the letter.
Sen Warren writes in the letter, “the Free File program has been a failure, scamming taxpayers into paying for services that should be free,” she added “deceptive practices and outright sabotage from Free File companies” were principally to blame for the low rate of taxpayer participation in the program — a rate of only about 3 percent, as per Warren’s estimation.
Intuit director of Corporate communications Derrick Plummer responded that Intuit strongly believed that Americans should be at the center of their economic lives and that Intuit was proud to have assisted more taxpayers file their taxes for free compared to other competitors combined.
Warren’s letter also highlights a March 31st report from OpenSecrets, revealing that Intuit had employed former government officials, including the former Congress Member, in its lobbying efforts. The company accumulated an expense of USD 2.2 Mn by lobbying in 2021.
The letter also points to a “revolving door” problem in enforcement, in which Intuit hires former regulators to aid deflect government action. For example, a recent court filing disclosed that the company hired former FTC chair Jon Leibowitz to defend himself from an FTC complaint. In addition, a 2019 report from Public Citizen revealed that Leibowitz was one of the dozens of former FTC officials with such potential revolving door conflicts.