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Why It’s (Still) Hard To File Your Taxes For Free

A copy of an IRS 1040 tax form is seen at an H&R Block office.
A copy of an IRS 1040 tax form is seen at an H&R Block office.

You knew they would come eventually. Amidst the turmoil, and even with an extended deadline, taxes are still due on July 15.

Although many people pay companies like TurboTax or H&R Block to file their taxes, you don’t always have to have to pay. In fact, many of those people should be filing for free.

However, an ongoing ProPublica investigation found that more than 14 million people have paid companies like TurboTax to file their taxes when it should have been free. They hid information from appearing in Google search results and actively worked to mislead and prevent eligible tax filers from filing without fees. Now, a Senate investigation says the IRS is also to blame for failing to oversee the free filing program.

But even though the filing deadline is looming, many have been unable to use the free program or have already paid these companies when they didn’t have to.

We reached out to Intuit, the company that makes TurboTax, about this conversation. Here’s the statement they sent us.

Intuit has helped low and middle income taxpayers file more completely free tax returns than all other tax prep software companies combined, including 13 million totally free returns last year alone.  Last year, even though it has no obligation to do so, Intuit did more than anyone else to promote Free File, including being the only company to do paid advertising, which Intuit is funding again this year. Intuit supports the empowerment of individual taxpayers to manage their own finances, including preparing their own tax returns, so they receive every dollar they’ve earned and deserve.

How do you feel about filing taxes this year? Do you use online tax prep companies? Have you tried to file for free and been unable to? Tell us your story.

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