Walmart and Jackson Hewitt: Shady business

Practical and Practice issues for Professionals who practice in the area of taxation. Moral, social and economic issues relating to taxes, including international issues, the U.S. Internal Revenue Code, state tax issues, etc. Not for "tax protestor" issues, which should be posted in the "tax protestor" forum above. The advice or opinion given herein should not be relied on for any purpose whatsoever. Also examines cookie-cutter deals that have no economic substance but exist only to generate losses, as marketed by everybody from solo practitioner tax lawyers to the major accounting firms.
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Red Cedar PM
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Re: Walmart and Jackson Hewitt: Shady business

Postby Red Cedar PM » Sun Jan 29, 2012 3:23 pm

I once considered working for Jackson Hewitt when I was in college. I went to "interview" with the franchisee who ran the office and within 2 minutes of the start of the interview I could tell the guy was a total scumbag. I wanted the position mostly to learn more about tax prep (and to have flexible hours and good pay) but the whole time he just talked about selling stuff - selling instant refunds, advance loans, etc. They even had a program where the "client" could file and walk out with a debit card that day with the refund loan on it. The interest rate they were charging was also close to usury. The guy also made several off-color remarks about the clientele - that they just wanted their money so they could go straight to the liquor store etc. I sat through about 5 more minutes of the interview, told him I wasn't interested, and walked out.

I remember seeing the dateline story sometime later about how many of these cheap tax preparer services were inflating client refunds so they could charge higher fees. I wonder if these places have gotten any better now that there are stricter paid preparer rules, but I imagine it's still a seedy business. I always tell friends to either use Turbo Tax if they have a relatively straightforward return and I look at what it spits out, or refer them to an actual CPA in town that I have worked with before and trust.
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Re: Walmart and Jackson Hewitt: Shady business

Postby rogfulton » Mon Jan 30, 2012 11:37 pm

Having worked for a number of tax prep franchses, including Jackson Hewitt, I can tell you that no client was allowed to sign until everything was explained to them to their satisfaction. Even when I worked for a franchisee that ignored most recommended practices from corporate and fired me for giving discounts to clients who had been displaced by Hurricane Katrina (franchisee preferred one $400 client to five $100 clients).

To claim the JH kiosks in Wal-Mart are bait-and-switching is old news. I heard it many times during my four seasons working for JH (3-1/2 were at a Wal-Mart) but never from a client. Very few left after finding out they didn't qualify for a particular price or discount but many came back after finding out our fees were lower than the competitors.

Any price that was advertised was honored, if the client qualified.

A store trying to increase sales??? Shocking!!!! I never heard of such a thing!

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Re: Walmart and Jackson Hewitt: Shady business

Postby Number Six » Sun Feb 12, 2012 9:59 pm

Red Cedar PM wrote:I once considered working for Jackson Hewitt when I was in college. I went to "interview" with the franchisee who ran the office and within 2 minutes of the start of the interview I could tell the guy was a total scumbag. I wanted the position mostly to learn more about tax prep (and to have flexible hours and good pay) but the whole time he just talked about selling stuff - selling instant refunds, advance loans, etc. They even had a program where the "client" could file and walk out with a debit card that day with the refund loan on it. The interest rate they were charging was also close to usury. The guy also made several off-color remarks about the clientele - that they just wanted their money so they could go straight to the liquor store etc. I sat through about 5 more minutes of the interview, told him I wasn't interested, and walked out.

I remember seeing the dateline story sometime later about how many of these cheap tax preparer services were inflating client refunds so they could charge higher fees. I wonder if these places have gotten any better now that there are stricter paid preparer rules, but I imagine it's still a seedy business. I always tell friends to either use Turbo Tax if they have a relatively straightforward return and I look at what it spits out, or refer them to an actual CPA in town that I have worked with before and trust.


And the value of a good accountant and or book-keeper should not be underestimated. But with most of them it is a once a year thing, instead of a month by month or quarterly process which gives the self-employed business owner a lot of confidence with profit generating services and in reducing expenses that are making the business not profitable. For those who go to sleazy accountants, they want to minimize paying them for questionable services. The sleazy ones, of which we see many examples on this board figure that because they are "saving" the customer considerable money, the customer will never complain. And usually they don't unless they start going down in audits; then they are bound and determined to take down the crooked preparer with them.
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Re: Walmart and Jackson Hewitt: Shady business

Postby wonderin » Sat Jan 26, 2013 6:16 am

Can't get a straight answers from any of those mega tax preparers about their fees either last year or this year? Can anyone help me? Thanks. :thinking:

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Re: Walmart and Jackson Hewitt: Shady business

Postby LaVidaRoja » Sat Jan 26, 2013 9:04 pm

Most quality return preparers cannot and will not give you a fee before they have prepared your return. They will likely charge based on the forms needed. Simple 1040 with only Schedule A? $XX Add child credit form? $Y. USUALLY by telling them what forms you filed last year they should be able to give you a "ball-park" estimate. However, if when you go in they discover that in 2012, you spent six months trying day-trading, your bill will definately be higher.
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Re: Walmart and Jackson Hewitt: Shady business

Postby Duke2Earl » Mon Jan 28, 2013 6:57 pm

Speaking as one who spent over 35 years as a tax consultant, there is nothing so absolutely useless to our economy as the tax preparation industry. Absolutely nothing of worth is created. It is simply a national disgrace that there is even a need for these firms to exist at all. Yes, what they do is legal. And anyone engaged in a legal activity is going to do whatever they can to increase business. But that is not the heart of the problem. The problem is that in anything approaching a rational world, they are needed at all. The very concept that simple wage earners with standard deductions should have to pay anyone for tax preparation is absurd.
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Re: Walmart and Jackson Hewitt: Shady business

Postby Burnaby49 » Mon Jan 28, 2013 8:01 pm

Duke2Earl wrote:Speaking as one who spent over 35 years as a tax consultant, there is nothing so absolutely useless to our economy as the tax preparation industry. Absolutely nothing of worth is created. It is simply a national disgrace that there is even a need for these firms to exist at all. Yes, what they do is legal. And anyone engaged in a legal activity is going to do whatever they can to increase business. But that is not the heart of the problem. The problem is that in anything approaching a rational world, they are needed at all. The very concept that simple wage earners with standard deductions should have to pay anyone for tax preparation is absurd.


Agreed, and it is no different here in Canada. I spent my entire career as a tax accountant and every year I would sit down and prepare my own tax return by hand. About as simple as you can get, one employer paying me wages, some investment interest, standard deductions. Just a matter of principle. I felt I should be able to fill out a simple personal return, tedious as it might be. About a decade ago I gave up. I just couldn't get it right with all the schedules and calculations for credits, surtaxes, federal and provincial taxes etc. Everything has to have a supplementary schedule and sometimes they have sub-schedules, it was endless. So now I have my wife do it (accountant also) using a tax preparation program.

What used to be a four page form has now gotten beyond the ability of the general public to personally complete so everybody ends up going to tax preparers. No rational reason except the government's demand for more and more information and the overwhelming complexity of the Income Tax Act.
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Re: Walmart and Jackson Hewitt: Shady business

Postby Famspear » Tue Jan 29, 2013 9:41 pm

Burnaby49 wrote:......No rational reason except the government's demand for more and more information and the overwhelming complexity of the Income Tax Act.


Part of what I do for a living is preparing U.S. Federal income tax returns. Overwhelming complexity seems like a perfectly rational reason to me......

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