5 On Your Side

Nash County Woman Still Waiting On Tax Refund

Posted May 24, 2006

— Many people use tax preparation services to do their taxes. Depending on the service, you can get your refund back quickly, for a price. A Nash County woman paid the price, but now she may have to wait months longer to get it if she gets at all.

Fast, accurate and professional service are some of the traits Jackson-Hewitt Tax Service promises, but customer Diane Seery said that is not what she got.

"I feel that they've been irresponsible," she said.

In February, Seery paid Jackson-Hewitt $155 to do her taxes. She expected a $626 refund in about three weeks. When that did not happen, Seery went to the Jackson-Hewitt office.

"The lady that was there looked through the filing cabinet probably four or five times and she said to me, 'I can't find any of your paperwork,'" she said.

Two days later, Seery said a Jackson-Hewitt representative called, saying her taxes never went through because of a computer problem. Her check was now supposed to arrive within two weeks. It did not.

Seery called the IRS and says she was told the refund was sent to Jackson-Hewitt five weeks earlier. She called Jackson-Hewitt.

"She said to me your check was picked up on Feb. 26 and it cleared the bank March 3," she said. "And I said I never picked my check up. I said I was there on the (March) 25 and they couldn't find my paperwork."

The representative had Seery fill out paperwork to get a copy of the check.

"You can tell it's not my signature," she said.

Seery wants the company to replace her check and refund the fee. They would not.

"I was upset. I was really mad," she said.

Seery called Five on Your Side, who talked with people at several levels of Jackson Hewitt, including local owner Paul Reinhardt. He believes Seery may have picked up the check. He claims his employees checked ID and had the person who picked up the check sign for it.

However, Reinhardt said the company did not make a copy of the person's ID because they "aren't required to." He is now waiting for the banks involved to complete their investigations. In the meantime, Seery has to wait.

"It's aggravating. I feel like they're calling me a liar," she said.

Since Five On Your Side's involvement, Jackson-Hewitt told Seery if the bank decides her signature was forged, the company will immediately send her a new check for the refund.

Since the Internal Revenue Service is not associated with tax preparation agencies, refunds are not issued by them, but by the preparer, and therefore the IRS cannot get involved in disputes between them and their clients.

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