In the middle of a tough campaign to hold onto his seat, Virginia Republican Del. Tim Hugo’s (R-40) connections to Turbo Tax and H&R Block are coming under increased scrutiny.
Hugo is the executive director of Free File Alliance, a nonprofit organization that entered an arrangement with the IRS to offer free tax services to millions of low-income Americans. As a trade-off, the IRS agreed not to provide its own free tax software to the public.
However, according to a report by Pro Publica, Turbo Tax and H&R Block hid their free software, making it virtually impossible to find. Turbo Tax and H&R Block both hid their software from Google, and as a result, millions of low-income Americans paid for software they should have been able to use for free.
Between 2007 and 2019, the two companies gave over $33,000 to Hugo’s campaigns. Hugo received a $2,000 donation from H&R Block in 2018.
Turbo Tax employees reported to Pro Publica that the strategy to hide the free software was intentional. H&R Block, meanwhile, even sent out a memo telling customer service agents to push customers towards the paid website “unless they are specifically calling about the Free File program.”
Customers spent around $1 billion on the unnecessary paid version of the software.
Hugo is facing off against Democrat Dan Helmer in November to represent District 40.