KNOXVILLE (WATE) – When Kelly Akers saw a promotion for Jackson-Hewitt Tax Service that advertised “we pay you $50, you pay us $48,” for a simple tax return, she decided to visit their independently owned tax office on Clinton Highway.
Because Kelly Akers is a single mother with two teenage sons and only makes a little over $25,000 as a certified nursing assistant, she is eligible for an earned income tax credit, which is a refundable credit for low-income workers with children.
However, Akers said she received a shock when received her return. Akers refund was $5,433 dollars, but she only received a return of $4,788 from Jackson-Hewitt Tax Service.
That’s a difference of $645 dollars. Akers said she expected to pay around $100, plus $50 dollars in fees for her two-page tax return.
Kelly Akers said she was charged $17 for a transfer fee, $33 for a bank fee, which means it cost $595 to do her taxes. She said it only took about twenty minutes to get all of the paperwork done.
Admitting she made a mistake while at the tax office, the Knoxville mother said her tax preparer showed her only his hand written figure: $4,788 as her return. After she got home and realised how much she was charged for her tax return, she went back to the Clinton Highway office.
“They told me there was nothing I could do, that that was the fee, it had been sent in. She said there is nothing you can do about it,” said Akers.
Chris Akers, Kelly Akers’ former husband, said he called Jackson-Hewitt Tax Service and asked if they would give him the specific fee they charged for preparing a tax return. He said they would not give him a specific fee and said each return was different.
“I did disclose that the fee was $600,” said Chris Akers, talking about the phone call. “They told me that was above their cap. I called the corporate office, Jackson Hewitt said ‘we will have a division manager call you as soon as possible,’ but nobody has called.”
Showing several income tax preperation services Kelly Akers’ tax return, WATE 6 On Your Side asked what they might the charge to process the return. The responses ranged from a little more than a hundred dollars to no more than $170. WATE 6 On Your Side also called Jackson-Hewitt’s corporate office and within days got a response.
“We appreciate Mrs. Akers trusting us with her tax return and apologize for the confusion,” said Jackson-Hewitt’s corporate office in a letter. The message went on to say “Tax preparation fees differ depending on the complexity of the return, but we have revolved the matter to her satisfaction.”
Kelly Akers was told Jackson Hewitt would return all her money except for $48, as it says it their ad. She said she was very grateful that she was able to resolve the issue.
“They blamed it on miscommunication. They said their franchises, they don’t know what the average is,” said Kelly Akers. “They are going to have to communicate better with them.”
The corporate office said the independently owned office on Clinton Highway is realtively new. They said they will do some additional training there.
WATE 6 On Your Side asked to speak to management at the office and they declined.