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Intuit's CEO has admitted his company decided to not have its landing page for the IRS Free File program ranked for search results. In an internal video published on the web site ProPublica, CEO Sasan Goodarzi said the company has removed the limitations.

“To avoid confusion between the IRS Free File program and our own free product, we decided to have the landing page for the IRS product we offer not rank in search results,” Goodarzi said in the video.

Asked for comment about the video's publication, Rick Heineman, Intuits VP of corporate communications, gave this statement: "Our CEO’s video message is part of our commitment to an ongoing dialogue with our 9,000 employees and reflects our culture of transparency. We stand behind the video as a clear description of our actions as being both appropriate and consistent with our values."

It was ProPublica which had accused major tax players of hiding the Free File program, which enables taxpayers who meet income threshold file for free, from search engines. ProPublica, which both posted the video and transcribed Goodarzi’s comments, said the limitation was removed too late for more taxpayers to avail themselves of the option.

Intuit’s totals for the tax season through April 19 showed 1,171,000 TurboTax units sold as part of Free File. That was up from 1,169,000 form 2018, virtually unchanged. H&R Block’s Free File efforts showed greater growth on a smaller base. The company said 661,000 returns were prepared via FreeFile, an 8.4 percent rise from 610,000 the prior year.

Goodarzi’s characterization of the decisions was“given the misinterpretation of our well intended actions, we decided to remove the limitations we put in place.” Goodarzi characterized the reporting this month to a publication which was lobbying for a filing program totally using government software. ProPublica said it assumed it was the source he meant to describe.

Bob Scott
Bob Scott has provided information to the tax and accounting community since 1991, first as technology editor of Accounting Today, and from 1997 through 2009 as editor of its sister publication, Accounting Technology. He is known throughout the industry for his depth of knowledge and for his high journalistic standards.  Scott has made frequent appearances as a speaker, moderator and panelist and events serving tax and accounting professionals. He  has a strong background in computer journalism as an editor with two former trade publications, Computer+Software News and MIS Week and spent several years with weekly and daily newspapers in Morris County New Jersey prior to that.  A graduate of Indiana University with a degree in journalism, Bob is a native of Madison, Ind
Last modified on Thursday, 16 May 2019
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