Troubleshooter tips: Getting your taxes prepared? How to avoid being overcharged

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- If you're getting your taxes done by a professional, make sure you don't have sticker shock when it comes to the final bill.

The best advice is to always ask for a written estimate before any work is done. Tashara Robinson learned that the hard way.

She had her taxes done at Jackson Hewitt on Elm Street in Fayetteville and said she just had a simple tax return.

"The only paperwork I had for her was my W-2, and I also had my child subsidy," Robinson said.

She said in years past she always paid about $375 and this year, nothing was out of the ordinary. While at the Jackson Hewitt office, she said she asked the preparer several times what the cost would be before any work was done but was never given a price.

"She saw I've been there previously, so she didn't need much information," Robinson said. "So she just pulled up the information she previously had and said it wouldn't take her long to prepare the taxes."

Robinson said she asked for an estimate on what it could cost to do her taxes, but says the tax preparer never gave her the final bill of $750 until she was done.

Robinson was shocked: "This is absolutely ridiculous."

Robinson said she filed a complaint with the corporate office of Jackson Hewitt, as well with the office that prepared her taxes, but nothing happened.

"I was highly upset at that point," Robinson said.

She got in touch with the Troubleshooter. After reaching out to Jackson Hewitt's corporate office, a representative provided this statement:

"Jackson Hewitt Tax Service and its franchisees are committed to getting clients every credit and deduction they deserve for their Guaranteed Biggest Refund. While we can't discuss the specifics of a client's tax return, we were able to reach a favorable resolution with the client. In general, tax preparation fees are dependent upon the complexity of the return and may be impacted by life changes such as new dependents, a change in filing status, or more, and prices are set by individual locations. Most Jackson Hewitt locations are independently owned and operated."

A representative also reached out to Robinson, and she said they resolved it to her satisfaction by offering her a full refund of her preparation fees.

TROUBLESHOOTER TAKEAWAYS

When getting your taxes done by a professional, get the estimated cost in writing before handing over your information.

Also, you need to make sure the person preparing your taxes has a tax preparer identification number or PTIN; this is required by law.

Also, check the preparer's qualifications by using the IRS's directory of federal return preparers.

No matter who you hire, always make sure your tax preparer signs your return.
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