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H&R Block used deceptive ads, deleted tax data: FTC

The Federal Trade Commission announced Friday that it had filed a complaint. H&R Block accused of deceptive marketing Online tax preparation software is free, but for many consumers it is not.

The FTC also alleged that the company removed consumers’ tax data and required them to contact customer service when downgrading to a more affordable product.

The FTC said H&R Block’s television ads and promotions indicated that consumers could file their tax returns for free, but included language (sometimes in fine print) stating that the free offer only applied to simple returns. Stated.


The FTC accused H&R Block of deceptive marketing by promoting its online tax preparation software as if it were free, when that was not true for many consumers. Getty Images

The ad did not explain what a simple return was, the company had changed its definition of the term “several times in recent years,” and H&R Block was aware of consumer dissatisfaction and confusion with the ad, the commission said. Stated.

“H&R Block designed its online products to present consumers with an obstacle course of tedious challenges and cause them to overpay for their products,” said Samuel Levin, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. Ta.

H&R Block’s website advertises a free alternative. Costs range from $35 to $85 For federal restitution.

The FTC is not seeking civil penalties.

H&R Block said in a statement that it believes “we offer our customers tremendous value, unparalleled tax expertise, and fair and transparent pricing.”


FTC Headquarters
“H&R Block designed its online products to present consumers with an obstacle course of tedious challenges and cause them to overpay for the products,” the FTC said. AP

The company added that it has offered a free “do-it-yourself filing option for more than 20 years to help millions of Americans file their taxes.”

Last month, the FTC banned TurboTax software maker Intuit from offering free advertising and marketing services when many consumers didn’t actually qualify, alleging that the company engaged in deceptive practices.

Intuit said it would appeal.

In 2022, it paid $141 million in damages for similar claims.

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