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Taxes-Penalties

It took a while, but it appears a Fitchburg couple who got some bad tax services — and a big unexpected bill — is being compensated for money lost, if not hassle endured.

Rosie Troia contacted SOS in early July to say that she and her husband, Jerry Thompson, didn’t find out until February that the tax returns they filed for 2017 had been botched by New Jersey-based tax-preparing behemoth Jackson Hewitt.

It was as the company was doing the couple’s taxes for 2018 when the preparer said Troia “did not have any income listed on my 2017 tax return,” Troia wrote SOS.

“She asked me if I took off work,” Troia said. “I did not take off work.”

“The person that did our taxes did not record my income,” she said of the 2017 returns, although the preparer had the proper documents from her showing that she was, in fact, employed and getting paid that year.

The botched returns resulted in sizeable refunds from the state and federal governments, but Troia and Thompson had to have the returns amended and pay more than $4,000 in back taxes, penalties and late fees. By the time Troia contacted SOS, the couple had been trying for five months to get Jackson Hewitt to make up for its mistakes.

SOS received no response to a pair of emails, detailing Troia’s predicament, that were sent to Jackson Hewitt’s media relations department July 10 and 11. A call on July 16 to their Far West Side Madison office, where Troia and Thompson had their taxes done, resulted in an automated phone system that ended in a recording saying no one was available to take the call.

SOS called the company’s national office that same day and spoke with “Rebecca,” who wouldn’t provide her last name and who, when asked for someone who handles media inquiries, said she “wouldn’t have that information.”

A pleasant man at the Far West Side office, at 704 S. Gammon Road, was a bit more helpful. He declined to speak on the record but took a copy of Troia’s emailed complaint and promised to pass it along to the proper authorities.

Later that same day, SOS received an email from Erin Stan of Columbus, Ohio-based Sedlock Partners, Jackson Hewitt’s PR firm.

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“We have received your inquiry,” Stan wrote. “I’m reaching out to the team at Jackson Hewitt to gather more information and will be in touch.”

On Aug. 9, Troia said she’d spoken with “John” from Jackson Hewitt, who said the company was going to cover half of the amount of the back taxes the couple had to pay after their 2017 returns were corrected, plus penalties.

“It looks like this long battle is finally coming to an end,” she said.

On Tuesday, Troia said that as part of a settlement, Jackson Hewitt required her and her husband to sign an agreement promising not to talk about their case, making the exact amount of the couple’s recompense impossible for SOS to ascertain.

Stan declined any further comment on Jackson Hewitt’s behalf.

Refund banked

Donna and Alan Matts reported on Aug. 26 that a refund check promised by Frontier Communications had arrived.

SOS helped convince the telecommunications giant that the Mattses should not have continued receiving bills — much less been sent to collections — after they had cancelled its services three months before.

The check totaled $57.56.

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