TAMPA, FL — Millions of taxpayers who used H & R Block to file their taxes are seeing delays in receiving their stimulus payments.
H & R Block is the world’s largest tax firm with more than 11,000 offices.
It offers advance refund payment services, which has led to millions of stimulus payments being deposited into the wrong accounts.
Some Tampa Bay area residents said they began noticing issues Monday, when promised payments didn’t arrive in their bank accounts.
Bill Welling of Tampa checked the status of his stimulus payment on the IRS Get My Payment website earlier this week and saw there was a problem.
“The four-digit account did not line up to what was my account,” he said.
“I’m looking at this and thinking, what if something happened that was fraudulent? What if somebody hacked into my account? We live in the day and age where that stuff’s real,” Welling said. “So I picked up the phone and called the IRS. I was literally on the phone for three hours.”
He eventually learned that the issue was this is stimulus payment was sent to accounts associated with his tax preparation service.
“The IRS sent the money to H&R Block to an account there. H&R Block now has to send it from their account,” Welling said.
Eisha Tilsdale of Gibsonton encountered the same problem.
“I’m like what is this number?” Tilsdale said.
She said she tried to get answers from the IRS.
“I called probably three times today and it tells you because call volume is so high, you can’t get anyone,” Tilsdale said.
Eventually, she got answers from posts on social media.
“Thousands and thousands of people… the same instance, the same issues,” she said. “It was a ruckus on Twitter. They had lots of GIFs up there.”
H & R Block declined an interview with ABC Action News but said in a statement, “Millions of H&R Block customers received their stimulus payments via direct deposit on Monday and yesterday, and we expect the remaining direct deposits to arrive in bank accounts today.”
“I’ve had maybe 15 calls this morning from people who are trying to switch from H&R Block because of this issue,” said Certified Public Accountant Stephanie, Heredia, who owns Taxes Tampa.
She says the problem was caused by refund advance services, which customers pay for with interest charges and fees.
“H & R Block and a lot of these franchises they will pay you up front and so the refund directly goes into their corporate accounts,” Heredia said.
H & R Block says less than one percent of stimulus payments sent to customers ended up in closed accounts, so the payments were sent back to the IRS.
Those taxpayers will get paper checks or future tax credits.
“What about the people out there that need that $600 to put food on the table today, not wait three months?“ said Welling.
Other tax preparation services that offer refund advances have had similar problems, including TurboTax, which also offered advice on how to make sure their payments arrive.
In the email sent to the I-Team, H & R Block said, “If the IRS Get My Payment website displays an account number a customer doesn’t recognize, H&R Block customer service agents are ready to help with additional information at 800-HRBLOCK and @HRBlockAnswers on Twitter.”
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