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Brownsville Man Charged Twice for Tax Preparation

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BROWNSVILLE - A Brownsville man said he was short hundreds of dollars on his income tax return. He said the business that prepared his taxes charged him twice for their services.

It was supposed to be a quick and simple tax return for Juan Carlos Alatorre.

"Head of household, single, no itemizations," he explained.

Alatorre said he went to Tio Sam Tax Insurance in Brownsville looking for an inexpensive place to do his taxes.

He filed a federal return and a state tax return since he recently lived in Kansas. That state mandates a tax return.

"They charged me $129. They did them within probably 20 minutes or so. They prepared them and I paid the fee cash up front," he said.

Alatorre was shocked when his tax return came in more than $400 short.

Tio Sam Income Tax charged him another preparation fee aside from the money he paid already. His signature is on the paper. He said he didn't realize what he was signing.

"You trust the business like any other business, and they are going to be ethical and proceed how they are supposed to and not rip people off. So I went ahead and signed it, but I didn't look carefully on the details to what I was signaling," Alatorre said.

CHANNEL 5 NEWS went to the income tax business three different times. We wanted to know more about the additional charges. All three times the office manager refused to grant an on-camera interview.

They issued the following statement:

"Tio Sam Tax is replying to an unhappy customer without fees. The client filed a state and federal return. We gladly refunded fees back to the client to resolve this matter."

Alatorre showed the $300 refund check from Tio Sam Tax. He said it wasn't until after his several attempts to get an explanation that the business decided to give him most of the money back.

"It's happening to me right now. I said how many people are walking in here and getting ripped off the same way? Or not even questioning it because they don't know any better? And just going about their days and this business is taking their money away," he said.

Tax preparer, Daniel Roldan, said customers have the option of paying for refunds upfront or have it deducted from their tax return - but not both.

Paying the tax preparation fees with the return is more expensive due to bank fees.

"They take care of the back end part, which is separating my fees and depositing them in my bank account and taking their refund and depositing it in their bank account or if they choose to do check, for us to print it here in our office," Roldan explained.

He said he saw no reason why Alatorre was charged twice. He recommends people get a clear explanation on fees before choosing a business to prepare their taxes.

Roldan also added for people to read the fine print of what they are signing. He said people should be honest on their tax returns and not get tempted to file something just because their tax preparer is telling them to do so.

Getting audited by the IRS can be a tedious and lengthy process. The deadline to file taxes or file for an extension is April 18. 

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