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Free means free, right? If you’re TurboTax, not always, according to a new ruling from the Federal Trade Commission. And not for everybody, or even most people— even if an ad says “100% free.”

You might remember that, back in early 2022, the FTC took action against Intuit, the company that owns TurboTax. The FTC said that TurboTax’s “file FREE” claims misled people because most people didn’t qualify for “$0 to file.” Except they only found that out well after they spent a lot of time putting all their info into the system. As a result, the FTC ordered Intuit to stop making false “free” claims.

While keeping in mind that free for somebody doesn’t always mean free for you, here’s where to find some real free help on your taxes:

  • If your adjusted gross income was $79,000 or less, the IRS Free File Program has free guided tax prep software for your federal taxes. Use this tool to find an IRS Free File trusted partner.
  • For servicemembers or veterans, MilTax is the Department of Defense’s free filing program. There, you can check eligibility, including for family members and survivors. Or start with the FAQs to learn more.
  • Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) is an IRS program that helps people who make $64,000 or less, have a disability, or who don’t feel comfortable speaking English. Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) helps people 60 and older.
  • Keep an eye on this tax season’s IRS’s Free File Fillable Forms, opening any day now, to check eligibility and get online versions of your federal tax forms, but no guidance.
  • This year, the IRS is launching a Direct File pilot. If you’re eligible and choose to participate in the pilot, you can electronically file your 2023 federal tax return for free directly with the IRS.

Find your state tax agency to find out what help might be available with tax returns in your state.

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David L Boyden
January 23, 2024

Well done, I deal with TurboTax for my family & 88 year old veteran mom. Intuit is very convoluted with their fee charges.

January 23, 2024


Evelyn Goodson
January 23, 2024

Good to know. I was hounded to file for "free" but didn't finish adding in my information.

January 23, 2024

Keep in mind that only the federal is free. However some states have a free online program. However you will probably have to input the data all over again

January 23, 2024

The article says that the MilTax option is available to veterans. It is NOT available to veterans or retirees except for a small handful who have been separated from service for less than a year. You might want to fix this in your article.

January 23, 2024

They are sneaky about it. I've used it since 2017 with no issues, both free and paid. You MUST read the options at the end and be sure to choose NO or NOT NOW when they try to bait and switch you into upgrades - on every screen. They put them under the yes buttons so your eyes automatically go to the big bright yes button on top. Those aren't the free ones. Like I said, sneaky but we must also read the fine print on what we are engaging with.

January 23, 2024

it's great to see these guys called out - yet again - for deceptive marketing practices. I was taken in like many others, not to mention that if you give the slightest indication of non-employment income, they desperately try to charge you even more for filing as a small business!

I M Spartacus
January 23, 2024

MilTax does not appear to be available for veterans.

January 23, 2024

In addition to the "free" qualifications, I learned -- confirmed a second sequential year -- that if you have no declarable income, they won't electronically file for you. Since I want a "paper trail", and need tax return copies for applications for Rx help, etc, I need to file. It was very frustrating to go through all the work, only to be told at the end that they would not process the filing.

Rocky Balboa
January 24, 2024

To avoid the possible Turbo Tax filing fee, send in a printed copy of your completed tax return to the IRS via US mail instead of filing electronically, and pay for return receipt requested.

Kevin Napoleone
January 24, 2024

If you want to help us. People are the lifeline to keeping the top in INTUIT. when you know how much money you have, and they know your spending habits helping you down the road to spend what you think is fair. everyone in one of the parts is involved in this. TURBO, CHIMP, MINT, KARMA, and the start Quicken BOOKs the AI. I bet if you or I knew this information it would be used to help. If you and I had board members to pay it might be different.

~ it the game MOMOLOPLY tat we paid at 3 years of AGE!

Hareg Mismaku
January 23, 2024

What do we have done without FTC?
You're great and our advocate.
Keep the good work up!

January 24, 2024

It is insane that the IRS does not have an on line tax filing program that everyone can use for free. Instead, they continue to allow these bandits like Turbotax and H&R Block continue to charge for what should be a free service.

March 25, 2024

In reply to by George

They are not 'bandits' as you stated. They are charging for their job, the have to pay employees, technology fees and so on. NOTHING is really free. DO you want to make a service or work without fee?

Bob Olesen
January 24, 2024

In addition to "false" options of free tax preparation, Intuit has also restricted the Turbo-Tax programs so that household members can no longer share the program. That, plus a higher price and more filing difficulty and excessive numbers of programs - Intuit is no longer a value. My suggestion: try H&R Block. It's regrettable the 'higher-up's" at Intuit have ruined a good application because of their greed!

Felipe Millares
January 24, 2024

Hi I think TurboTax should have some type of compensation because I always buy the TurboTax disk and I have them in line for all previous years. They should come with something in terms of what we can do with the old one turbo tax disc

Gary Melnick
January 24, 2024

In reply to by Felipe Millares

I felt the same way until this year as Felipe. When I went to load my 2023 Turbo Tax disc it informed me it would not run because it was for 64 bit processors only, forcing me to buy a new computer. I tried the online download as well, same issue.
I have a history on my old PC going back to 2009. None of that is compatible with the new processor, my history will be gone.
They didn't care, no system developed to move the history. Looks to me that they are trying to price us like their Pro-series product. I think 2024 filing will be with a different application.

January 25, 2024

Ok. Unless ftc enforces Intuit Turbo Tax to reimburse each consumer then it doesn't matter much. Consumers have dealt with this for about a decade. We already knew Intuit lied.

Brenda Harris
January 25, 2024

I have filed with them several times and it always seems as though its going to be free but at the end I get charged for 200 and something dollars.

February 05, 2024

I have used turbotax for years. BUT NO MORE. i am tired of ghese tech companies providing computer programs and increasing prices every year while spending millions on TV advertising and sponsoring the NFL billionaires! This year and from here on, using TaxAct at 60% less expense. And the c/s with TaxAct is umbelievable!

January 30, 2024

Turbo Tax is still ripping people off

January 31, 2024

Thank you for sharing such good information. This is very helpful. I wish more people know about the IRS free filing program.

February 02, 2024

This year is twice as bad you have to pay for upgrading and if you just have them take it out of your taxes there is a third party bank you have to pay a $40 processing fee to.

Michelle Grenier
February 06, 2024

I have used TurboTax for years, I’ve never had a problem paying, but don’t tell me it’s free, and then charge me. I just saw a commercial the other day that’s a TurboTax was free, I started filing on TurboTax on the app, I get to the end and it’s charging me $39 discounted price. It told me that if I didn’t want the deluxe that I had to start all over again. It never even asked me if I wanted the deluxe. It’s absolutely ridiculous.

February 06, 2024

I had the Student credit which I had to upgrade to a $39 plan, I live in Ohio and it costs $40 to file state income tax on TurboTax. Ohio has a free file program which I will use for my state taxes.

Thank you

Ja Koe
February 26, 2024

I just started filing mie out. Nothing changed from last year except I put money from Savings into a CD. I know, I have to include that as income, but I am still way below the limit. Turbotax says I have to pay to file! And it's really hard to find out what cut me off? Interest Income from simple banks accounts, that at never happened before when I used them. Is there a free service I can use? I already spent way too much time looking and I already completed more than 50% of my return before TurboTax said I had to pay. Argh! Hate these companies. Government should contract this out to ONE firm or do it internally, but then Republicans wouldn't fund it.

chris morgan
February 26, 2024

It's false advertisement I had a simple form. when I clicked on the link it was free until I filed. this should be illegal

March 04, 2024

Taxslayer still does the same thing. From the link off the IRS site, it says that you can free file under $44k, and that “ All tax forms, schedules, credits, and deductions are included — meaning all tax situations are covered.” - but if you have income other than wages, unemployment, and interest, they hit you up at the end for $20 + taxes. That was a waste of an hour. I’m sure they sucker a bunch of people in, but I refuse to be one of them.

March 08, 2024

In reply to by Tom

Taxslayer also erases all information if you want to downgrade. I entered a form for student loan interest and even though did not qualify they upgraded from free to paid without notifying me. So you pay $70 to find out you do not qualify. Only other forms were 2 W-2s which qualified for free. At least could erase and start over without calling them. Reading the qualifications TaxSlayer is the only one out of TaxAct, H&R, and Turbo that does not include EITC in the free program.

Yongchang Zhou
March 07, 2024

My income are ss pension and company pension. Turbotax charge me 89$ for federal return, then it told me file state tax return (I remembered I did it together when I filed federal tax return) then it charged 59$ state tax return. Is that happened to other people?

March 15, 2024

In reply to by Yongchang Zhou

Yes, ended up paying for federal and state. Also had to pay a fee so turbo tax could send my payment to the IRS. $118.00 plus cost of cd to begin with. I think TX just shot themselves in the foot. Won’t use this service again. There was nothing to indicate I would have to pay additional $$$ when I bought cd.

March 12, 2024

I’ ve been using Turbotax for about 25 years. The last 2 years I filled for free, because I am now filling Standard deduction and I am 65. Now this year, something changed AGAIN, and I can’t file free, because I have to claim the State’s 2021 Rebate that I finally got in 2023, and it’s on a 1099-misc form.

Sorry, I am NOT paying them for even the basic one, when it will not affect my taxes at all.

March 21, 2024

Just went thru this. They have a bait and switch "free" link. I went thru their entire flow doing my in-laws taxes only to find out they wanted us to pay about $80 for a couple on SS earning less than $30k/year.

I used them for the last time this year, for this, and because after an entire day of finishing my own taxes with them, I realized at checkout they funneled me to their "Live" version. Guess what? There's no way of downgrading, their coupon wasn't even applied, so it was either pay $273, or start 100% from scratch. This should also be worth the FTC looking into.

I redid my in-laws taxes on the IRS' recommended Took an hour. Filed state and federal for $0. Next year, I'll be doing the same with all our taxes.