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TurboTax maker Intuit accused in lawsuit of deceptive practices with lower-income taxpayers

Intuit accused of deceptive practices

Intuit, maker of TurboTax, lured customers into using the tax preparation service with the promise of free filing of U.S. returns only to charge them anyway, according to a lawsuit on behalf of disgruntled customers.

For the 2018 tax season, any taxpayer whose adjusted gross income was $66,000 or less is eligible to use tax preparation software from any of a consortium of providers known as the Free File Alliance, which is led by TurboTax, according to the complaint filed Sunday in federal court in San Jose

Although 70 percent of U.S. taxpayers are eligible to file free of charge, fewer than 2.5 percent actually use the program. “The reason for this stark discrepancy,” the plaintiffs allege, “is due in no small part to an array of deceptive practices employed by TurboTax (and its competitors) to prevent lower-income taxpayers from utilizing the program in favor of its paid product offerings.”

An Intuit spokeswoman, Diane Carlini, declined to comment. The class-action suit was filed by three plaintiffs who seek to represent other customers.

Last week, Intuit and H&R Block were sued by Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer, who accused the companies of undermining the Internal Revenue Service’s free file program.

— Bloomberg News

Regulators drop brake-throttle plan

The Trump administration said Monday it will drop a plan first proposed in 2012 that would have required automakers to install brake-throttle override systems to prevent runaway vehicles.

The regulation was proposed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in response to accidents caused by unintended sudden acceleration in Toyota Motor vehicles. It would have required that all motored vehicles’ brakes be able to override the accelerator pedal.

The proposal was aimed at ensuring the driver could halt a vehicle by applying the brakes if a throttle pedal was trapped by a floor mat, shoe or other obstruction.

On Monday, NHTSA said all automakers have voluntarily installed the override systems on all new vehicles and the agency does not anticipate any automakers removing the systems. But in dropping the plan, NHTSA will not set braking distance requirements for the systems and other performance requirements.

Gloria Bergquist, a spokeswoman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, said the plan is no longer necessary.

— Reuters

Germany has opened the first stretch of a so-called electric highway that will connect hybrid trucks to overhead wires, allowing them to recharge while traveling on the country's main transportation arteries. The six-mile stretch south of Frankfurt on Germany's A5 autobahn was opened last week, the German state of Hesse said. The system was built by Munich-based engineering firm Siemens, while Volkswagen's Scania trucks unit provided the vehicles.

Kering, the French owner of Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent, says it wants to improve suppliers' treatment of animals used for products like leather handbags and cashmere suits. The luxury company will apply European Union standards for animal welfare — considered to be among the world's most rigorous — as a global baseline by 2025, it said Monday.

U. S. safety regulators are investigating whether General Motors went far enough when it recalled about 3,000 small pickup trucks in 2016. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will determine if GM should recall about 115,000 Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon pickups from the 2015 model year. The agency says it has received 50 complaints about failures from owners of trucks not in the 2016 recall.

Bed Bath & Beyond's longtime chief executive, Steven Temares, stepped down on Monday, following pressure from a group of activist investors that had been pushing for his ouster and a shake-up of the furnishing retailer's board. The retailer has struggled to keep pace with changing consumer tastes and shopping habits, reporting 1.1 percent growth in sales last year compared with over 22 percent in 2003, when Temares took over as chief executive.

— From news services