At the end of TurboTax program, if you have a REFUND, you will have a choice to 1) have your REFUND electronically sent to your Bank for a small fee that you pay by Credit Card, 2) have your REFUND sent to you in the MAIL for FREE, and 3) have your REFUND sent to your Bank electronically for the same fixed fee as in (1) above but in this case your REFUND stops at Santa Barbara Tax Products Group where for reasons they can determine on their own, without explanation to you other than "its for your own protection", they can hold and sit on YOUR REFUND for several weeks before presumably forwarding it on to your own Bank. In my case, SBTPG is holding a several thousand dollar refund without explanation. There is no way to reach them by phone or online chat. They requested ID verification which I provided by sending an image of my CA Drivers License and then no reply or response from them at all. Understand, the U.S. TREASURY issued my refund on April 4, 2018 and it is now April 10, 2018 with no indication of when the refund will be paid into my Bank account. This is too risky a process and TurboTax and Intuit should have advised us so. Strongly advise you to use mail or pay for processing fee upfront.
There is no fee to have your refund direct deposited to your bank account. You only pay a fee when you choose the Refund Processing Service (to pay TurboTax fees from your federal refund) option. That is disclosed in the agreement that is presented to you to read and sign before filing.
What you do pay for is the TurboTax software, any state returns you add or any other add-ons that you add before filing.
If you chose to pay fees with federal refund, yes, it goes to Santa Barbara Tax Products Group first. And if you checked the status of your refund from the IRS Where's my Refund? page and it says that your refund was sent to your bank, but TPG hasn't received and released your refund please be aware that the IRS may indicate funds are available days before they are released to TPG and other banks industry-wide.
You can go here Check the status of your Refund Transfer Status with TPG to check status of it.
You can also find their contact information here Santa Barbara TPG Contact Information and you are correct, there is no chat, but there are phone numbers listed.
They also provide details as to why they would hold your funds and how to release any holds on your refund here How to verify my information with Santa Barbara Tax Products Group (TPG)
yes, this is a 40 dollar rip off, they don't tell you that up front. Need to be more honest. Simple line after the choice that says (this costs 40 dollars) would be more honest