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TurboTax Scams Military Members with a “Military Discount” to File Their Taxes

TurboTax Scams Military Members with a “Military Discount” to File Their Taxes

Intuit, the maker of TurboTax, created and promoted a “military discount” that charges service members who are eligible to file for free.

As stated, my goal is to shine a light.  Usually directed at the behavior of elected and other government officials.  Injustice, cold hard facts, (you remember those right?), and any information that society needs.  Isn’t that the true role of journalism?  Objective continuous transparency?
Sometimes though things just get under our (my) skin.  Predatory actions that take advantage of a portion of our fellow citizens, neighbors and family that, frankly. needs to be stopped.
Take the recent actions of Turbo Tax.  Earlier this year I spread the work that this was happening. I am not on Fox News or CNN or the View so not enough heard the screaming I did.  Well, here we are.  As Propublica and the Military Times report jointly, Turbo Tax just made a ton of money essentially lying to the members of our Military promoting a “discount” for a service that is free to them. Needless to say, this strikes home for me for many reasons, including the fact that I am a Navy Vet and so on.
In patriotism-drenched promotions, press releases and tweets, TurboTax promotes special deals for military service members, promising to help them file their taxes online for free or at a discount.

Yet some service members who’ve filed by going to the TurboTax Military landing page told ProPublica they were charged as much as $150 — even though, under a deal with the government, service members making under $66,000 are supposed to be able to file on TurboTax for free.

Liz Zimmerman is a mother of two teenage daughters and a toddler who lives with her husband, a Navy chief petty officer, in Bettendorf, Iowa, just across the river from the Rock Island military facility. When Zimmerman went to do her taxes this year, she Googled “tax preparation military free” and, she recalled in an interview, TurboTax was the first link that popped up, promising “free military taxes.” She clicked and came to the site emblazoned with miniature American flags.

But when Zimmerman got to the end of the process, TurboTax charged her $60, even though the family makes under the $66,000 income threshold to file for free. “I’ve got a kid in braces and I’ve got a kid in preschool; $60 is half a week’s worth of groceries,” she said. “Who needs date night this month? At least I filed my taxes.”

In the commercial version of TurboTax that includes the “military discount,” customers are charged based on the tax forms they file. The Zimmermans used a form to claim a retirement savings credit that TurboTax required a paid upgrade to file. If they’d started from the TurboTax Free File landing page instead of the military page, they would have been able to file for free.

Yes, of course, we can always blame the service members for lack of due diligence or paying attention or being a victim.  After all they are just sitting around doing nothing with no other priorities in their life.  Better yet, they are paid soooo much money that this would not “really” impact them would it?  Well, we know this is not true and I do hope that the military members impacted collectively sue Turbo Tax and make them pay for this indiscretion and scam. Certainly the public will be in favor of it.


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