FTC penalizes H&R Block for misleading online filing offers.

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  • The Federal Trade Commission filed a complaint against H&R Block for deceptively marketing “free” online tax filing.
  • H&R Block allegedly led consumers into higher-priced products and made downgrading to less expensive products difficult.

Key Elements of the Article:

The Federal Trade Commission has taken action against H&R Block for its deceptive marketing practices surrounding “free” online tax filing. The FTC alleges that H&R Block misled customers by leading them into higher-priced products, even when they did not need the extra forms and schedules included in those products. When users attempted to downgrade to less expensive options, H&R Block reportedly made the process time-consuming and challenging, deleting all entered tax data and requiring users to start over. This created a significant disincentive for customers to downgrade. The FTC also criticized H&R Block’s misleading advertising, which claimed certain services were “free” without clearly defining what constituted a “simple return.” H&R Block defended itself, stating that it provides value to clients and offers a free DIY filing option, among other resources. The complaint comes in the midst of the IRS pilot testing its Direct File free tax system and follows similar FTC complaints against Intuit for its TurboTax marketing practices.

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