5 On Your Side

Apex Man Tries to Track Down Tax Refund

Posted May 30, 2007

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— When a Wake County man didn't receive his tax refund check in the time promised and he couldn't reach his tax preparer, he called 5 on Your Side for help.

Dale Rea had his taxes done at a Jackson Hewitt franchise inside the Fuquay-Varina Wal-Mart. His refund of $7,375 was supposed to arrive within four weeks. When that didn’t happen, he went back to the tax office, but the office was gone.

Five on Your Side has received a couple of complaints about that particular franchise group, which happens to be in the middle of a legal battle with the federal government. This case isn't tied to that battle. But for Rae, it was a battle all the same – to track down his refund check.

Rea also tried calling Jackson Hewitt’s phone number, but he got only recorded messages.

“I just want to crawl through the phone and get ahold of that recorder,” he said.

When Rea went to Wal-Mart to find out what happened to the tax office, store officials said they had no affiliation with Jackson Hewitt.

“I said, ‘Wait a minute, these people came and set up shop in your store and you're telling me you don't have any idea who these people are?’” he said he asked the store officials.

Rea checked with the IRS and was told the check had been deposited in Jackson Hewitt's account weeks earlier.

“It's hard telling where my money is sitting,” he said. “It's sitting somewhere drawing someone interest. And it's not me.”

That’s when he turned to 5 on Your Side.

“I've reached the end of my limits,” Rea said. “At this point, I'm mad.”

Five on Your Side had a similar experience with Jackson Hewitt. WRAL called office after office. Sometimes we got the same recording. Sometimes we got one saying the number is disconnected, and sometimes we didn't get an answer at all.

The Jackson Hewitt franchise Rea used is owned by Smart Tax of North Carolina. In April, the federal government sued Smart Tax in three states and two other franchise operators.

The suit claims the companies based returns on phony W-2 forms, used "absurd" tax deductions and got kickbacks from customers. Soon after, Smart Tax agreed not to take on any new tax business.

But, finally, while WRAL was interviewing Rea, Jackson Hewitt called.

“Wow, a real-life human being,” Rea said.

Cheryl Dumpson from the local Jackson Hewitt headquarters told Rea he could pick up his check the next day.

Dumpson said the company is having problems with its r new phone system, which is why customers consistently get the recordings.

As for Rea’s check, she said the company called his house twice, but he doesn’t have voice-mail, so they couldn’t leave a message.

Wal-Mart didn’t return 5 on Your Side’s call.

If you have a problem with your tax service, you can file a complaint with the N.C. Commissioner of Banks or call 919-733-3016 and request to speak with Consumer Affairs.

You can also file a complaint with the N.C. Attorney General's Office or call 1-877-5-NO-SCAM.

16 Comments

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  • beachboater Jun 1, 2007

    "Just spend $39.99 or less and buy your own Tax Software (Turbo Tax or Tax Cut) and do your own taxes! These programs are very user-friendly"

    User friendly as long as you know how to interpret the questions it asks. I dare say, you get what you pay for @39.95. But, you may well get more than you would get from a franchised tax preparation business.

    The rip-off at the Jackson-Hewitt and the H&R Block is that they train a person for about 6 weeks and then they prepare your return. They charge MORE than a CPA in some cases by the time they add the refund anticipation loan fees and interest.

    I hope congress will see the light and outlaw predatory lending on tax refunds. There has been talk of it, but no action as of yet.

  • Voice of Reason 23 Jun 1, 2007

    We used to use a CPA, but we were looking into adopting a child, and I asked him via e-mail about a couple of posible scenarios, and what that would do to our taxes. He sent back the responses and that was that. Then, a few days later, we were sent a bill for something around $60 for "consulting fees."
    I would have had no problem paying the fees if he had been upfront about them and told me that I would be charged and given me an estimate, but he didn't say anything about it. I figured that the several hundred dollars we gave him to type some numbers into Turbo Tax would cover that.

    We paid that fee, and have never gone back to him ever again. I bought Turbo Tax and do it myself for a fraction of the cost.

  • klfroio Jun 1, 2007

    Hey Yup, I want to know what kind of CPA you are that is "alive 350 WEEKS a year!" Last time I checked there were only 52 weeks in a year :)

  • just my2cents Jun 1, 2007

    I agree about the guy getting back that much money. Something is wrong with this picture.

  • amjackson4379 Jun 1, 2007

    How much did this guy pay in taxes last year? A seven thousand dollar refund either means this guy is having way too much taken out during the year or he is having "real taxpayers" money given to him. A general rule is for every 500 dollars of refund you should add another dependant. That is why we need an overhaul of the irs or something like the Fair Tax. There is no way you should receive a "refund" of more than you paid in.

  • InhisName aka CaryCrazzy Jun 1, 2007

    Thats why you need to hire CPA'S instead, We really know what were doing and we are not seasonal only, Were alive 350 weeks a year. And I'm verry polite. I and would not set up at K-mart or at Wal-mart. We have our own office. And I dont have a new phone system so ya can talk to me all day. =;)

  • Tackman792000 Jun 1, 2007

    Just spend $39.99 or less and buy your own Tax Software (Turbo Tax or Tax Cut) and do your own taxes! These programs are very user-friendly. Also get a copy of Publication 17 from the IRS office.

  • DontBelieveTheHype May 31, 2007

    Woot! Go 5-On-Your-Side!! Monica is my hero.

  • Americanpatriot May 31, 2007

    hey it's not Wal-mart's fault! he should have gone to H&R Block. they are consistent and very polite. my parents have used them for almost 10 years. Any tax place that doesn't have their own office is bad news!

  • sfo49er May 31, 2007

    Charlotte - I was thinking the same thing. Maybe his Tax Refund is burried in the backyard of that Postal Worker in Mebane.

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