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04-03-2018 01:58 PM
I recently had my taxes prepared in my local Conway, SC branch office. I called in advance to get some price quotes which all seemed reasonable - all between $140 - $275. I had moved from FL to SC - and was told I would need to file with the State as well (FL does not have state income tax, but SC does). I had all of my documents necessary for the preparer. We spent just about an hour preparing my taxes. She needed one additional form (from my son's college) - and asked that I return that next day to complete them. I did as she asked and then was told that the form was unnecessary because of the amount of academic scholarships he was receiving. At that point, my taxes were complete and we filed them. She informed my I owed over $3500 in taxes and gave me an envelope to use to submit my taxes. I was stunned and shocked. (Prior to seeking a professional, I had done a quick online calculator at home which showed me having a return of at least $1000). I told her I thought that was high and she pointed out that I was getting benefits that may not be available next year, such as relocation and college expenses, and that it could have been worse. We then went to check out. I got NO INVOICE from her, but was charged $475 for her preparing and filing services. I was again stunned at how high this price was, but paid and left the office feeling like a gross mistake had been made all around.
When I got home and looked at my documents again - I found that the tax expert had used my w2 from the wrong year in preparing my taxes - she had used 2016, not 2017. There was not only a substantial change in my income, but change in my tax bracket. I immediately called her to inform her of the mistake to see if we could stop the electronic filing - but she said it was complete. She asked for the correct numbers, and then casually told me to stop by later in the week and drop off the correct 2017 form and that she would give me an amended tax form which I would then file via regular mail. As it turned out, I was correct, I would be getting a tax refund. Moreover, the SC taxes were irrelevant because I had not earned monies living in that state.
She made no real apologies. I found the mistake - I can only imagine what the fall out would be had I not caught it! She told me to wait a few weeks to mail my amended tax return in. This all took place the first week of February, 2018. Today is April 3, 2018 and according to the IRS, I owe them money - which indicates they have not processed my amended return. I have emailed my preparer, Phyllis Baker to see if I should have gotten confirmation from the iRS at this time. She has not responded.
I called the office to speak to a representative about how much I was charged - I believe overcharged - for this entire business exchange. The gentleman I spoke to was curt and rude with me. I explained that I believed I was overcharged for services that were (unfortunately mistakenly) provided. I told him that when I asked about price quotes, the highest estimate I received was under $300. He told me that every case is different and that they simply use a formula and that there were many sheets of paper that had to be printed to complete my return - twice! - and that I was lucky I was not being charged for the amended return. I tried again to ask him to evaluate my return, and how much it should have cost (with me providing all the correct forms, having some itemized lines, and the time taken). He justified his unwillingness to consider the mistake by telling me "people make mistakes all the time -you probably make mistakes in your line of work and you still get paid." I informed him that the mistake in my return was not the main issue - the original payment of time was the problem, and it was compounded by the mistake. He could not, or would not consider that I had been over charged and told me to call the home office. He refused to offer any resolution - in fact, he did not ask what resolution I was seeking.
I am extremely frustrated with the service I have received. I honestly could have used an online program, gotten a reliable outcome, and spent considerably less. I am using this forum as a starting point for a resolution. No other source of resolution has been offered to me. If any other clients have had a similar experience and a favorable outcome, that would be very helpful as well.
04-05-2018 09:24 AM - edited 04-05-2018 09:28 AM
I am very sorry you had a poor experience and I would like to help by giving a few answers.
With amended tax returns they do take additional time to process, you can check the status of it here: https://www.irs.gov/filing/wheres-my-amended-return
I can not speak to the fees without looking at the return specifically. I can say they are charged based on the forms that are used to complete the tax return, and as such they can be listed individually. So while an estimate can be off base because of additional information at the time a tax return is completed it is possible to explain what was charged per form when it has been completed.
When you have a poor experience at the office level please contact the District Manager for the area, there card will be available in any of the offices. Point out to them the situation: the wrong year's W2 was used, you would like a review and explanation of the fees, and you did not receive answers to your questions by phone. The DM should be able to provide assistance which may include having you sit with a different tax professional to review the situation.