Beware of Shady Tax Preparers
(Memphis) We’ve spoken to taxpayers who were shot at, and bullied into handing over their refunds, even to those who got into an all out brawl over the money!
Tax season shouldn’t have to get nasty, but it does.
Surprisingly though, it`s not just crooked tax preparers who pay the price when something goes wrong.
“I’m leaving, doesn’t mean you’re allowed to touch me,” exclaims our WREG producer/photographer. He again says, “Sir you don’t have to…,” when the camera shuts off.
The above exchange is how the On Your Side Investigators left one business owner.
We were pushed out, and that business owner broke our camera.
We went to speak to the person, hoping to get answers for customers like, Camecia Davis.
She’s still scarred from her experience with Reliable Taxes.
“This was on my car window shield, I wish I had never seen this,” says Davis referring to a small, promotional post card. Davis went to Reliable on Lamar Ave. in December after seeing the post card, hoping to score extra cash for Christmas.
“I was going in for the instant loan and they said I wasn’t approved, and he went ahead and, left out the door, he still did my taxes without me knowing it,” explains Davis.
Davis only found out after calling back to actually file her taxes. She got further confirmation in an email from the IRS. “It said that the bank had received the refund.”
Davis adds, “It was scary because I didn’t even think people would do that.” Furious, Davis went back to Reliable to find out what happened.
“I said well I`m going to have to report you to the IRS, because I feel like that was wrong to do it without my consent,” Davis says. That`s when things got ugly.
“He said well you can call the M-F, IRS you can call F-ing anybody!”
I asked Davis, “You all literally came to blows?” She responded, “We came to blows.”
That scuffle with a female office worker landed Davis an assault charge.
Meanwhile, she`s still fighting for her refund.
“I`m just waiting to hear from them and I`m glad it`s under investigation so they can crack down on Reliable Taxes,” Davis says of the IRS.
The On Your Side Investigators got a tip the business is run by the Williams brothers, and we confirmed a business license under the name Rodney Williams.
You might recognize the Williams name. The men were connected to the violence plagued Club Crave on Beale and are being sued for defrauding taxpayers at their Mo` Money and Money Co` franchises in Chicago and St. Louis.
We catch up with one of the twins at their liquor store on Brooks Road in Memphis.
I say, “Wanted to talk to you, we’ve gotten some complaints about the tax company, Reliable.” Williams refuses to answer any of our questions and literally pushes us out of the door.
“It`s reliable, like you know, you rely on these people,” says Davis.
“I trusted her because she is a licensed, tax preparer,” says taxpayer Calvin Miller.
Miller`s talking about the owner at Right Choice Tax Preparation. She amended three years worth of his returns for $50 each. Miller was under the impression it was for a gas credit .
“I thought maybe she knew something I didn’t know,” Miller says.
Apparently not, months later Miller got a notice from the IRS. He was being fined $5,000!
“They were saying that I was trying to get money I wasn’t entitled to.”
We went to Right Choice and the woman sitting at the front said the owner, Jada Lester wasn’t there, but told us to come back. We did.
However, the same woman repeatedly told News Channel 3 Ms. Lester wasn’t in.
Meanwhile, there are pictures on Facebook and Twitter using the name Jada Lester, that look like the same woman who sat at the front of Right Choice.
We went back to Right Choice again with Miller.
There was a note on the door that read “Gone to the ER.”
A day later there was another note, stating someone had pneumonia. Miller couldn’t even get Lester on the phone.
While the IRS is cracking down on shady preparers, the return is ultimately the taxpayer`s responsibility.
Taxpayers should pay close attention and never sign anything blank or walk away without copies.
Certified Public Accountant Greg Pohlman says the easiest way to spot red flags is common sense, “If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
A lesson Davis and Miller learned the hard way.
“Do your research,” says Davis. “There`s nothing that`s free,” adds Miller.
Many folks qualify to have their taxes prepared for free.
In fact, there are more than a dozens sites in Shelby County where workers handle free, tax prep.
Find a site here, or call 1-800-906-9887.
The IRS was in the process of requiring all tax preparers to register, but that’s been held up in court.
If you don’t use a CPA, check to see if your preparer is an enrolled agent.
They can represent you in front of the IRS.
To determine if the preparer is an EA, you can email EPP@irs.gov, or call the IRS Office of Enrollment at 313-234-1280.
Also, every preparer should have a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) which should be included on the return.