This one came across the news wire on Monday and I'm sorry, but I just can't resist a snarky comment.
An H&R Block manager was arrested in Van Nuys, CA in February for identity theft. Apparently he was using client's information to prepare bogus tax returns on their behalf and obtain refunds using the H&R Block "Emerald" cards to withdraw the refunds from ATM machines.
The usual corporate caveats are being ladled out, ie H&R Block takes the matter very seriously, it involves only a handful of clients, they are cooperating with law enforcement, and so on.
First off, let me say that there are a lot of experienced, competent H&R Block people out there. We have a former HRB person in our office that is very knowledgeable. However, the little secret that you won’t see in their advertising is that each year they hire a lot of inexperienced people that have taken only a 3 month class on tax prep. Just enough to be dangerous.
If you want to avoid being the subject of a tax related fraud, you should deal with a legitimate professional you know or who has been around a long time. This guy was released on Bond and could conceivably be working again in a tax office somewhere right now.
Secondly, when police picked this guy up he was loitering around ATM machines at midnight with pantyhose over his head. Apparently none of his conduct during the daytime alerted anyone to his crimes, but if you are a confused cross-dresser, it's a dead giveaway.
(Guest post by Paul P. Scholz, CPA www.paulstaxblog.com)