(WIVB) — The owner of TurboTax software has agreed to shell out more than $140 million to settle an investigation that it misled customers. High tech developer intuit is accused of charging for services that were supposed to be free.

Intuit was participating in the IRS’s Free File program, where income-qualified taxpayers can get their taxes prepared for free. New York Attorney General Letitia James led a 50-state investigation that resulted in this multi-million-dollar settlement.

The attorneys general from all 50 states and the District of Columbia slammed TurboTax’s creator, Intuit, over promotions like that. The company participated in a tax preparation program known as Free File, for low and moderate-income taxpayers but multiple investigations claimed more than 4 million of those folks ended up paying.

“The software said, actually in order to file you need to pay us 50 to 100 bucks. A lot of people don’t want to go through the process again so they just paid, even though they should have been able to file for free,” said Justin Elliott, reporter, ProPublica.

Justin Elliott is a reporter for the investigative group ProPublica, which published a number of stories accusing TurboTax of deceptive promotions. ProPublica’s work, based on tips from Intuit’s own workers, led to Attorney General Letitia James’ investigation.

“Reaching out and talking to me, a journalist, I just think it shows how important that is when people in any context see something they think should not be going on,” added Elliott.

For its part, Intuit issued a statement, through its blog site, denying it did anything wrong, but it agreed to pay $141 million to put this matter behind it and made agreed to certain commitments regarding its advertising. Intuit added, that last tax season, the company delivered over 17 million free tax filings, the most in the industry, including the IRS’s Free File program.

“And so even if you had been looking for that truly free version online, it would have been extremely difficult to find,” Elliott said.

ProPublica’s reporting on TurboTax also caught the eye of the Federal Trade Commission, which is suing Intuit, but Intuit says the company is prepared to prove the merits of its case in the FTC’s administrative action.

Al Vaughters is an award-winning investigative reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 1994. See more of his work here. To submit a Call 4 Action, click here.