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Shaheen, Warren urge IRS to scrutinize TurboTax practices

New Hampshire U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen is joining with Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren to ask federal banking regulators and the IRS to look into the practices of tax preparation company Intuit TurboTax.

After hearing complaints from constituents, the two Democrats wrote to the Internal Revenue Service, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Federal Reserve last week calling for scrutiny on the way TurboTax collects filing fees and distributes refunds.

In question is the relationship between Intuit TurboTax and Green Dot Bank.

They said New Hampshire and Massachusetts taxpayers told them that instead of refunds being deposited into taxpayer bank accounts, Intuit’s TurboTax deposited their refunds in the Utah-based Green Dot bank, where those taxpayers did not have accounts. Because they were not considered Green Dot customers, the senators wrote, the taxpayers could not get through an automated phone system to track down their refunds, and their normal banks did not have any record of the refunds.

The IRS can ask Green Dot to move customers’ refunds to their normal account, the senators wrote, but the bank is not obliged to respond.

The senators also urged the IRS “to develop its own simple, free filing service that taxpayers can use if they prefer not to have their refunds diminished by fees, their tax data shared with private companies, and their money whisked into banks they themselves did not choose.”