One of the big issues when it comes to tax prep software (TurboTax being the most well-known example) is that it can often charge people when it shouldn't. Anyone making under $34,000 last year should not have to pay for tax prep. This is part of the deal that these companies struck with the IRS: the IRS agrees not to make a public tax preparation program, and the companies allow people under a certain income to file for free. But the Intuit (the maker of TurboTax) et al. have done a poor job of marketing this, and in fact are often going out of their way to make it difficult to find. This agreement was not enshrined in law, but was instead a "memorandum of understanding" (MOU) between the IRS and a trade group for the tax prep industry. The existing agreement was scheduled to expire in October 2020.
Then in 2018, the IRS Advisory Council investigated the program (among other things). Their report was delivered to IRS in the fall. The Council noted that "deficient oversight and performance standards for the Free File program put vulnerable taxpayers at risk." In mid-October 2018, prior to the report's public release, the head of the trade group and one of their lobbyists e-mailed the IRS person in charge of the agreement, and asked for urgent meetings to discuss a new MOU. The new agreement was signed on October 31, 2018, and the report from the IRS Advisory Council was made public two weeks after that. Of note, the new MOU now lasts until October 2021, and did not follow any of the Advisory Council's recommendations in terms of greater oversight or transparency.
When ProPublica started digging, they requested the e-mails between the IRS and tax prep folks under FOIA. The IRS initially said that they fell under an exception to FOIA that protects internal deliberations by government employees from disclosure. However, the e-mails were written mostly if not entirely by the trade group, not anyone with IRS. ProPublica sued, and the IRS dropped their objection.