FTC alleges that H&R Block steers consumers’ to unneeded products and deceptively markets “free” online filing

The Federal Trade Commission is taking action against H&R Block, alleging that the tax preparation company unfairly deletes consumers’ tax data and requires them to contact customer service when they downgrade to more affordable online products, and that it has deceptively markets its products as “free” when they were not free for many consumers. The FTC’s administrative complaint alleges that H&R Block’s online tax filing products lead consumers into higher-cost products made for more complicated tax filings, despite many consumers not needing the additional tax forms and schedules offered by those products. In addition, it alleges that H&R Block fails to clearly explain which of its products cover what forms, schedules, or tax situations, leading many consumers to start completing their tax returns in products that are more expensive than they need. When consumers later realized they did not need or want those more expensive products, though, the FTC says, H&R Block presented them with a series of time-consuming challenges when attempting to downgrade after already spending substantial time entering their tax information.

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