FTC ruling cites deceptive advertising by TurboTax software maker Intuit

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) administrative law judge ruled on Friday that Intuit Inc., the maker of the popular TurboTax tax filing software, engaged in deceptive advertising and deceived consumers when it ran ads for “free” tax products and services, the FTC said in a statement.

The judge, D. Michael Chappell, also found that there is a “cognizant danger of a recurring violation” by Intuit and ordered the company to cease-and-desist from engaging in the deceptive practices outlined in the FTC complaint.

Intuit had revealed the ruling last week and the FTC statement confirmed the findings on Friday.

The judge’s order also bars Intuit from “representing that any good or service is free, unless it is free for all consumers, clearly discloses any limits to the offer,” the FTC said. The company must also disclose whether any good or service is not free to a majority of U.S. taxpayers, it said.

The settlement resolved claims that Intuit steered at least 4.4 million customers, many with low incomes, into buying its tax preparation products despite the customers’ eligibility for free electronic filing through the Internal Revenue Service.

Intuit on Friday called the ruling “groundless” and said it will appeal.

“Intuit has always been clear, fair, and transparent with our customers and we remain committed to providing free tax preparation,” it said in a statement.

(Reporting by Doina ChiacuEditing by Jasper Ward and Aurora Ellis)