TurboTax creator Intuit has had a chilly relationship with the IRS, and now it's cutting some of its involvement. The Hill reports that Intuit is leaving the IRS' Free File program after participating for almost 20 years. The company said it was "proud" of its involvement, but claimed the limits of the program and "conflicting demands" from outside the program left it with little choice but to leave.
An exit would let Intuit concentrate on "further innovating" in ways the IRS Free File program didn't allow, the company said. While the firm didn't elaborate on what those plans were, it argued that it could help taxpayers get refunds sooner at no charge while drawing on experts and letting users rely on their own data.
The company maintained that it was still "committed" to free tax filing, but that almost 90 percent of filings from the past eight years came from outside of the Free File program.
The move comes just a year after the New York State Department of Financial Services found that Intuit and four other tax prep providers (including H&R Block) had conducted "unfair and abusive" practices by hiding the landing pages for their free filing pages in an alleged attempt to artificially drive paid filing. The IRS also added protections that not only prevented attempts at hiding free filing, but gave the IRS the power to create its own free-file option.
It's not certain if the government crackdowns prompted Intuit's exit. Whatever the motivations, the move could still make it harder for some people to file their taxes. About 3 million of Intuit's 17 million free filings last year went through IRS Free File. That's a large number of people who will have to either find alternative free solutions or hope that TurboTax won't incur a cost.