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Comments

Tivona

In general, when you're talking to them about the impact this is having on you, emphasize the financial aid issues and avoid the refund issue. Many accountant types "look down" on large tax refunds as they consider it poor tax planning because it amounts to an interest free loan to the government. Insist on speaking to the person in the office with the most experience with education credits and if they don't have the expertise there, ask if another local office might have someone.

Frankly, I know it might not be an option, but I would look for a private CPA or EA (Enrolled agent- generally a former IRS worker) in your area to make sure it gets straightened out this time. When done, write the other place a letter and ask them to pay for the real tax pro's services and any other costs (fees/penalties/interest, but not additional tax) you incurred because of their ineptitude. In your letter, emphasize the impact on your financial aid and avoid talking about how you needed the refund.

AlwaysBeNiceToTechSupport

If you're worried about the timing of your financial aid vs your taxes, I would see about getting a small 'private' student loan to cover your semester and the 'large purchase', which i assume is either a laptop, desktop, or books.

i lost my fin aid (didn't have enough credits to be considered full-time because i had failed a class...long story) my last quarter of my college career. i scrambled to try to appeal my grade, and missed the fin aid appeal window. i took out a private loan and just handled it. usually, you can get approved with a co-signer within a day or two. if you bank at a credit union, they're even easier to get a private loan through. the rate will be approx. 6-7% instead of 2-3%, but you'll have the money in-hand.

call your registrar or accounting office at your college and see what they'd recommend.

melmcl

I agree with Tivona - find a CPA and get them totally redone. I work next to a bunch of Blockheads and they only get about 3 days worth of instruction with 1 true accountant on site so mistakes are common. However, you paid for their services, which comes with a guarantee, and you also gave them the chance to fix it, which they didn't. Now, it's their turn to pay for someone to fix their mess. Good luck either way!

Bored at the Bookstore

'Zackly. You need an actual accountant to fix this mess. Then go after Blockheads under the terms of the guarantee, whatever it was, and try (i.e., threaten to sue) for reimbursement on the grounds that they messed up not once but twice and caused you financial hardship with the financial aid. I've noticed that the guarantee they always advertise on TV says something to the effect that "If there is a problem, HRB will go to the IRS with you"... But doesn't say they'll actually pay anything. I've never used them, so I don't know what the warranty actually is, though. Because I have a business, I have to have my taxes done, and I've always used a CPA ... The bill this year was $300, and worth every penny. But I believe there's a graduated rate - the less complicated the cheaper; and in your case, it sounds as if it might be a wise investment. I mean, how much do you stand to lose if this messes up the financial aid package?

Chicajojobe

I agree with Tivona about going to someone other than Blockheads. From what I've found popup tax places tend to be clueless. I went to one once and they guy talked about three things I supposedly qualified for and then at the end said..."oh wait, my mistake, you don't qualify for these credits after all!"
Since this place obviously did your taxes wrong, quit going back to them.

I also agree that the most important issue is your financial aid, so stress that. However, I don't think you should downplay or just write off your refund. It's your refund and it's within your right to want it.
I don't care if accountants look down on big refunds because they consider it poor tax planning. You're what in your early 20s? At that age and in those kind of jobs it's common to just take the standard withholding and get all or most of it back depending on whether your parents still claim you as a dependent.
The accountant is working for you, even if they do consider it poor planning, so they should get you the money the government owes you. If your accountant look down on you and do a poor job because of it he/she is, frankly, an asshole because that's asking a lot of tax savvy of a college student!

Chicajojobe

Ugh, I really need to start proofreading my comments.

Former Grocery Slave

I find it best to just get TurboTax and do it yourself. The program asks you all questions and you just have to input information from youtr tax documents. H&R Block just hires anyone - they don't have to have a background in tax law or anything like that. You are literally paying them to do the same exact thing you would be doing yourself with TurboTax.

KennelKitty

Thanks guys. I'm definitely never going to them again. The worst of it is that they aren't even refunding what I paid them. Crusty move or not, I'm telling them to refund what I paid or I'll dispute the charge on my card. I didn't pay them to screw with me.

Persephone

Good- don't let them make you pay for less than nothing- they did not provide you with what they sell (a properly done tax return), and have been unable to fix it either. So I really don't see what they would be charging you for- their time spent messing up your taxes? That's like charging someone for digging up all their rosebushes when you were hired to weed the garden. They didn't do the job they were hired for, they harmed you in the process, and they still want to be paid? No.

Chris

You might want to determine whether they actually screwed up the taxes the second time; it's not unusual for the IRS to want to "clarify" something on perfectly good returns, particularly if there has already been an amendment. Do you actually need to amend the taxes again, or just submit more documentation, or even just wait for the IRS to think about it for awhile before deciding everything's okay?

If the Blockheads really did get it fixed last time, and the problem now is at the IRS, then they've probably met the terms of their agreement. In that case, disputing the charges on your credit card may not yield the results you want, and could actually rebound. (Depending on your state laws, the Blockheads could refer your account to collections, etc., even if the credit card company agrees with you.)

TaxCat

Heyo, I'm an MSA (master of science in accounting) grad. H&R Block isn't always terrible (especially since they and a few other tax prep pop-ups were so awful that the IRS forced them to put all of their tax prep employees/contractors through a certification program with the IRS now and probably til the end of time), but using anyone other than a trained and educated tax accountant or CPA is always a risk. I'm guessing that whoever prepared your tax return somehow managed to overstate your refund with the student loan interest deduction. You can read more about that here if you did not already know: http://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc456.html

It's helpful, but the limit is $2,500 in interest; the excess cannot be deducted. You also don't receive the benefit of the deduction if you are a dependent; nor does whomever claims you on their taxes, sadly, and if someone else is paying your student loans, you may also not receive the deduction. It's very annoying.

From your post, it sounds like the error and its correction will lead to hardship due to enforcement. Think about contacting your local IRS advocate: http://www.irs.gov/uac/Contact-Your-Advocate! There is even a contact form rather evocatively labelled Form 911.

If you believe that your preparer may have willfully committed fraud in overstating your return, you can also report them for that. I also strongly recommend contacting your tax preparer's corporate customer service line and/or writing a short & sweet EECB to them. Screwing up someone's return is a big deal. The company needs to be aware of its problem areas, and you need to be made whole.

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