Metro-East woman says she was ripped off after paying $5,000 for tax services


by Mike Colombo / News 4

Posted on September 27, 2012 at 3:50 PM

Updated Thursday, Sep 27 at 5:20 PM

ST LOUIS (KMOV) – A Metro-East woman says she paid over $5,000 for a service, but didn’t get what she paid for.

Pam Tucker said she considers herself lucky. Her former tax accountant, however, doesn’t.

“He failed to file my taxes for three years and didn’t tell me,” she said.

That left Tucker with a whopping $100,000 tax bill. Looking for help, she found the online service Tax Group Center, which is based in California.

“At the time they had a really good rating. In July of 2011, they had an A+ rating,” she said.

Last July, Tucker said the Tax Group Center promised to get her an “offer in compromise” to reduce her tax bill.

Instead, all she says she got were countless emails, an extended payment plan, and a bill for over $5,000.

“Kind of like going to a doctor for a brain tumor and he says, ‘hey, while you were out I took your tonsils out, that has value, but sorry about the brain tumor.’  That’s what I feel like.”

Harry Charles, a Clayton CPA and attorney, is licensed to practice before the IRS.

When it comes to dealing with online tax services, he has a simple question.

“Would you marry somebody online, sight unseen?” he asked.

Charles says online services are known in the industry as “offer-mills,” where staffers are often more interested in selling than serving.

“When you call these offer mills you’re going to get a sales person, and that won’t necessarily be the person who is representing you,” he said.

Tucker does not deny that Tax Group Center provided a service. It just was not what she paid for.

And it gets worse.

“In fact, this particular payment arrangement I have, a man at the IRS told me I could have gotten it myself,” Tucker said.

News 4’s calls to Tax Group Center have not been returned. And the A+ ratting Tucker saw last year is gone.

The Better Business Bureau now has no rating for the company and shows almost three-dozen complaints.a