TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—Attorney General Ashley Moody today announced a $141 million multistate agreement with Intuit, Inc., maker of the widely used online tax-preparation software TurboTax, for allegedly deceiving consumers into paying for tax services that should have been free. As a result of the multistate agreement, consumers across the nation will receive $141 million in restitution from Intuit. In addition, Intuit must suspend TurboTax’s “free, free, free” ad campaign that allegedly lured customers with misleading promises of free, online tax-preparation services, when, in fact, many customers were directed to products that were not free. All 50 states and the District of Columbia have signed on to the agreement. Under the agreement, eligible Florida consumers are estimated to receive a total of more than $10.3 million.
Attorney General Ashley Moody said, “As a result of this multistate investigation, Intuit will have to pay more than $140 million in restitution for allegedly advertising free tax-preparation products and then directing many consumers to pay for upgrades in the service. Not only have we secured millions for those who were misled into paying for services that they could have obtained for free, we also stopped these deceptive practices both now and for future consumers of Intuit products.”
The multistate investigation found that Intuit engaged in deceptive and unfair trade practices that limited consumers’ participation in the Internal Revenue Service’s Free File Program. The company used confusingly similar names for both its IRS Free File product and commercial “freemium” product. In addition, the company used search-engine services that directed consumers who were looking for the IRS Free File product to the TurboTax “freemium” product instead. Intuit also blocked its IRS Free File landing page from search-engine results.
The investigation found that Intuit’s advertisements and its TurboTax website misled consumers into believing that taxes could be filed for free. Many consumers did not learn that payment would be necessary until spending time and effort inputting tax information into TurboTax. Moreover, the investigation found that some consumers eligible for Intuit’s IRS Free File product were misled to believe that an upgrade was necessary.
As a result of the multistate investigation, eligible Florida consumers who used TurboTax’s Free Edition, but were charged in tax years 2016 through 2018, will automatically receive a direct payment of approximately $30 for each year that this happened to them.
Intuit has also agreed to reform its business practices, including:
- Refraining from making misrepresentations in connection with promoting or offering any online tax-preparation products;
- Enhancing disclosures in its advertising and marketing of free products; and
- Not requiring consumers to restart tax filings if the consumer exits one of Intuit’s paid products to use a free product instead.
Attorney General Ashley Moody, along with the attorneys general of Illinois, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Washington, helped lead the investigation, which included the remaining 42 states and the District of Columbia.
PHOTOS: Legendary Actor Edward James Olmos Honored by U.S. Hispanic Chamber in Orlando
ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN) – Acting legend Edward James Olmos was honored Tuesday by the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce for his longstanding leadership, advocacy, commitment to the elevation and appreciation of the Latino culture throughout his career and body of work. The USHCC capped its three-day conference at Loews Sapphire Falls Resort at Universal with its Leadership Gala Tuesday night.
“He stands as a living legend in our community, both on and off the screen, with an unwavering commitment to preserving and promoting our rich Latino culture,” said the USHCC in a statement on its National Conference website. “His lifelong dedication to amplify Latino voices through his artistry, activism, and numerous business endeavors, such as establishing the Latino Public Broadcasting and passion in seeing literacy thrive in underserved communities, reflects only a small part of why he is a cherished leader.
“His efforts have significantly contributed to fostering inclusivity in the entertainment industry and worldwide. This award holds a special significance, especially during the ongoing guild strikes to which we are in complete solidarity.”
Mellissa Thomas is the Managing Director of FNN News Network. | email@example.com
The IRS Plans to Crack Down on 1,600 Millionaires to Collect Millions of Dollars in Back Taxes
WASHINGTON (AP) — The IRS announced on Friday it is launching an effort to aggressively pursue 1,600 millionaires and 75 large business partnerships that owe hundreds of millions of dollars in past due taxes.
IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel said that with a boost in federal funding and the help of artificial intelligence tools, the agency has new means of targeting wealthy people who have “cut corners” on their taxes.
“If you pay your taxes on time it should be particularly frustrating when you see that wealthy filers are not,” Werfel told reporters in a call previewing the announcement. He said 1,600 millionaires who owe at least $250,000 each in back taxes and 75 large business partnerships that have assets of roughly $10 billion on average are targeted for the new “compliance efforts.”
Werfel said a massive hiring effort and AI research tools developed by IRS employees and contractors are playing a big role in identifying wealthy tax dodgers. The agency is making an effort to showcase positive results from its burst of new funding under President Joe Biden’s Democratic administration as Republicans in Congress look to claw back some of that money.
“New tools are helping us see patterns and trends that we could not see before, and as a result, we have higher confidence on where to look and find where large partnerships are shielding income,” he said.
In July, IRS leadership said it collected $38 million in delinquent taxes from more than 175 high-income taxpayers in the span of a few months. Now, the agency will scale up that effort, Werfel said.
“The IRS will have dozens of revenue officers focused on these high-end collection cases in fiscal year 2024,” he said.
A team of academic economists and IRS researchers in 2021 found that the top 1% of U.S. income earners fail to report more than 20% of their earnings to the IRS.
The newly announced tax collection effort will begin as soon as October. “We have more hiring to do,” Werfel said. “It’s going to be a very busy fall for us.”
Grover Norquist, who heads the conservative Americans for Tax Reform, said the IRS’ plan to pursue high wealth individuals does not preclude the IRS from eventually pursuing middle-income Americans for audits down the road.
“This power and these resources allow them to go after anyone they want,” he said. “The next step is to go after anyone they wish to target for political purposes.”
Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said the IRS’ new plan is a “big deal” that “represents a fresh approach to taking on sophisticated tax cheats.”
“This action goes to the heart of Democrats’ effort to ensure the wealthiest are paying their fair share,” he said in a statement.
David Williams, at the right-leaning, nonprofit Taxpayers Protection Alliance, said “every business and every person should pay their taxes — full stop.” However, “I just hope this isn’t used as a justification to hire thousands of new agents,” that would audit Americans en masse, he said.
The federal tax collector gained the enhanced ability to identify tax delinquents with resources provided by the Inflation Reduction Act, which Biden signed into law in August of 2022. The agency was in line for an $80 billion infusion under the law, but that money is vulnerable to potential cutbacks by Congress.
House Republicans built a $1.4 billion reduction to the IRS into the debt ceiling and budget cuts package passed by Congress this summer. The White House said the debt deal also has a separate agreement to take $20 billion from the IRS over the next two years and divert that money to other non-defense programs.
With the threat of a government shutdown looming in a dispute over spending levels, there is the potential for additional cuts to the agency.
Orlando Economic Partnership celebrate the 2023 AWE Impact Forum
On Wednesday, the Orlando Economic Partnership’s celebrated the All Women Empowered (AWE) 2023 AWE Impact Forum, presented by Orlando Health Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies.
Focusing on women’s economic empowerment, AWE brought together the business community and elected officials for a morning of connectivity and inspiration that was kicked off by City of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer.
Local organizations showcased resources available to take women to the next level in their professional journey. The collaborative event also included an insightful panel discussion with female leaders from the private and public sectors.
“Today we’re here to recognize the pivotal roles played by mentors, sponsors, and allies in shaping the success stories of women in our community. We also want to highlight many of the regional professional and community resources available specifically for women in the Orlando region,” said Tim Giuliani, President and CEO of the Orlando Economic Partnership.
All Women Empowered, or AWE for short, was created four years ago to empower women and grow their influence in our community. Convening both women and men from private, public and nonprofit partners, we work together to unify our region’s resources into a strategically coordinated campaign that equips women with the tools they need to build the future they envision for themselves.
“It is programs like this one that make us a more inclusive, welcoming region. Thanks to the commitment we have to our community and our amazing partners we can now celebrate that the Orlando Economic Partnership was recognized with the pinnacle award in our industry, the title of National Chamber of the Year,” Giuliani added.
Through programs like AWE, together, we are working to help build a more equitable and prosperous future for our all the women in our region.
By outlining strategies for equitable economic recovery and growth and amplifying resources that can help women grow their careers, women-owned businesses scale, and encourage women’s advancement and ownership, we advance Broad-based Prosperity and create a more resilient region.
Orlando City Mayor, Buddy Dyer kicked off the event stating that “it is an honor for me every day to serve as the Orlando Mayor… but I am especially proud when I get to attend events like this that help to make Orlando a more vibrant and welcoming place for everyone. I often say that what our community does best is collaboration. All Women Empowered provides a platform for each one of you to create, develop and grow partnerships that will play a role in strengthening our community. With your support and your leadership, I know that our community will continue to work together to foster an environment that advances opportunities for women to thrive in their careers and all endeavors. I truly believe that when women succeed, our entire community succeeds.”
The main panel at AWE Impact Forum was led by Cari Coats, the co-founder and managing partner of Accendo Leadership Advisory Group.
Coats has a long track record and decades as a corporate leader, most notably with the Orlando Magic and CNL Financial Group. Her community and civic leadership are long-standing and far-reaching, including numerous board positions. Today, leverages her extensive experience and thought leadership to help senior leaders and teams as a business and executive coach.
A particular focus and passion for Coats is accelerating the path for women leaders, which is why we have partnered with her to offer our LEADForward Roundtables, a transformative, year-long professional development program for high-potential women.
Coats led the panel discussing the challenges in a world where gender equality remains an uphill climb, and stated that “it is crucial that we come together to acknowledge the transformative power of mentorship, sponsorship, and allyship, three critical accelerators in empowering women to level up and reach new heights. These three pillars provide invaluable support, guidance, and opportunities, enabling women to successfully overcome challenges and fulfill their true potential.”
Coats described mentors as those who are wise and experienced guides who selflessly share their own lived experiences to help women navigate the written and unwritten rules of the workplace. They serve as a sounding board and provide a supportive environment where women can explore their strengths and develop crucial skills.
Sponsors, on the other hand, are advocates with power who recognize and believe in your potential and actively work to create opportunities for you. Sponsor’s use their political and social capital to move your career forward. They leverage their own reputation and credibility opening doors for you because they are banking on you.
“Think of it this way. Mentors help you skill up. Sponsors help you move up. Mentors talk with you. Sponsors talk about you. You can choose your mentors, but a sponsor chooses you,” Coats said.
Lastly, allies. “Allies speak up and step up. They are the individuals, regardless of gender, who stand shoulder to shoulder with women, amplifying their voices and advocating for equal rights and opportunities.
Allies challenge the status quo, combat gender bias, and work tirelessly to create inclusive environments where women can thrive. They understand that true progress is achieved when we all unite in the pursuit of gender equality.”
Coats was joined by a distinguished panel of speakers who embody these pillars. Their stories served as testaments to the transformative power of these roles in empowering women to overcome adversity and achieve greatness. Together, we will gain valuable insights, learn from their experiences, and discover practical ways to foster an environment where women can flourish.
The panelists shared personal anecdotes and success stories that highlight the impact of sponsors, mentors, or allies on women’s career progression and how those relationships contribute to their growth and success.
They discussed the ways in which sponsors, mentors and allies help address issues such as gender bias, unequal bias, unequal opportunities, and workplace discrimination, how can they advocate for women’s empowerment and create a more inclusive work culture, and pointed out strategies or approaches can women employ to identify and engage potential sponsors, mentors, or allies.
General manager and vice president of soccer operations for Orlando Pride, Haley Carter talked about her career in a male dominated profession and how she has uplifted herself as a retired professional soccer player, business executive, coach, licensed attorney, and former U.S. Marine officer, making two combat deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Orange County Clerk of Courts, Tiffany Moore Russell was opened discussing how she started her career and the importance of having mentors and allies like she did when she was “convinced to run for office the first time.”
A native of Orlando, Florida. she’s served two terms on the County Commission (2006-2014). Clerk Russell again made history in 2014 as the first African American female Clerk elected in Florida and the first African American Clerk in Orange County.
As Commissioner, and now as a Constitutional Officer, Clerk Russell has a strong commitment to her community.
Orange County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Maria Vazquez (vas kwez) talked about her commitment for more than three decades, dedicated to serving students needs.
She has served at every level of the education system and has extensive expertise in curriculum and instruction. After beginning her career as an elementary school classroom teacher and resource teacher in reading and language arts, Dr. Vazquez served as an assistant principal and principal in Orange County Public Schools (OCPS).
She served the district across multiple roles including area superintendent and chief academic officer before being promoted to deputy superintendent in 2018 and now Superintendent of the 8th largest school district in the country.
An active community member, Dr. Vazquez currently serves on several boards including the Orlando Economic Partnership, City Year of Orlando, CareerSource Central Florida and United Arts of Central Florida. She is also a member of the prestigious Chiefs for Change.
President of Orlando Health Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies Suzanne Worthington talked about the importance of following your dreams and working hard. She remembered how she started at the hospital with an entry level position and is now the President of Orlando Health Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies Worthington. She joined Orlando Health in 1995 and during her tenure, she has supported a variety of teams, including the OB/GYN and pediatric specialty practices within the Orlando Health Medical Group, patient financial services, allied health clinicians, support services and acute care operations. Through each of these opportunities, she has focused on helping teams work toward and maintain operational and service excellence.
Suzanne has served on the boards of the Orlando Science Center and the Orlando City Foundation and is proud to be an alum of Leadership Orlando Class 98.
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