Tax Credit Snafu Hits Mid Missouri

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FULTON - A tax credit error affecting people nationwide has hit central Missouri.

April Adams of Fulton is an online student, and was supposed to receive education credits from the now-infamous Form 8863.

"The most they can give somebody like me, who's on disability and going to school, is one thousand dollars," Adams said.

After filing her taxes on February 18 and 19, she never received her money because of an alleged computer glitch at H&R Block that caused form 8863 to not process correctly. H&R Block is not the only company that experienced the glitch; companies like Turbo Tax also experienced issues.

The glitch allowed boxes 23 through 26 to process as unchecked, even if the person filing actually did check the boxes. Any combination of checked or unchecked boxes showed up as unchecked.

The IRS is now telling people like Adams they will have to wait another four to six weeks before getting their returns, since they have to review the returns. For people like Adams, that won't be soon enough.

Adams underwent gastric bypass surgery about a year ago that requires specific vitamins, post-operative, to keep her alive. She says she currently can't afford the vitamins and isn't taking them because she hasn't yet received her returns. She sent a letter from her surgeon, along with letters from herself and her boyfriend, explaining her need for the vitamins to Taxpayer Advocate in St. Louis asking for help.

"It's been one fiasco after another," Adams said.

Adams also said Facebook groups like Club 8863 are also helping band people together to fight for their returns.

"We usually go on there, and we talk about what's going on, with our taxes and we have our direct deposit dates," Adams said.

In addition, those who never received their returns have also taken their complaints to H & R Block's Facebook page. As a result of all the postings, on March 19 H&R Block re-posted its Facebook posting policy on its page.

H&R Block has also responded to its customers via a letter from CEO Bill Cobb. The letter explains the mistake was with "the form transmission" and was not the fault of those preparing the taxes. It also states that H&R Block is "in daily communication with the IRS" which is doing all it can to "speedily process" all the returns.

However, Adams says she still has not received her returns and she was never directly contacted by H&R Block, something it promised to do with all its clients. In addition, she has been calling her local H&R Block, who assisted her with her taxes, but she says no one there will answer her questions.

"They're still saying it's not their fault," said Adams. "Even after the letter Bill Cobb (H&R Block CEO) came out with, they refused to take ownership of their problem."

Even with all these issues, Adams says those affected aren't going down without a fight.

"A lot of us have filed complaints with our state attorney generals," Adams said. "They have filed with the Better Business Bureau and then we were given the option of opting out of our arbitration agreement with H&R Block and that basically gives us the right to join a class action lawsuit."

David Cialaowski, a partner at Zimmerman-Reed Law Firm in Minneapolis, Mn. says filing a personal lawsuit is also an option.

"There is an arbitration clause that H&R Block uses in their contracts so if people want to go on their own and file a lawsuit, on their own, they would have to exercise the opt out right," said Cialaowski. "I think it's 60 days from when you signed up with H&R Block you have to exercise that right and notify H&R Block that you want to opt out."

The IRS and H&R Block said they are trying to speed up the process in getting returns back to those who filed.