Check your New York State tax return if you filed it early with H&R Block.
The $4 billion company’s tax preparation software has made ‘voluntary contributions’ on behalf of unsuspecting taxpayers to a new state fund that donates to political campaigns, a tax expert says at Post.
The expert, who requested anonymity, uncovered the shocking error while finishing the return of his sister-in-law, who as a state pensioner and social security recipient pays no taxes in New York – but still had a balance of $40.
“She has no taxable income, how can she owe $40? ” He asked.
New York State allows taxpayers to make “voluntary contributions” on their returns to dozens of causes, such as the 9/11 Memorial, the City University of New York and the Olympic Training Center in New York. Lake Placid.
New this year is the Campaign Finance Fund, which under new provisions of state law will make matching contributions to eligible candidates. Donors cannot direct their donation to a specific party or candidate.
Individual contributions must be $40; joint filers can donate $40 or $80.
After going through his statement “three times,” he checked voluntary contributions on a hunch.
“None of the boxes contained an entry. Yet the program deferred a contribution of $40”
Manually entering zero for the campaign finance fund resolved the error, he said.
“The Pollyanna in me would rather think it was a problem,” he said.
He noted the error had been corrected by the time he got to feedback from other friends – after The Post contacted H&R Block.
It was not immediately clear how many taxpayers were affected. The software starts at $50 for those with investments; simple returns can be free.
The company said it fixed the error quickly and was working to “fix” the issue for those who had already filed it.
“H&R Block is aware of this situation, which appears to have affected a relatively small number of DIY customers in New York. We took immediate action, preventing any additional taxpayers from being affected. We are taking steps to resolve this issue for those who did not intend to contribute to the fund,” a representative told The Post.
Garrett Watson, senior policy analyst at the Tax Foundation, said the practice of soliciting voluntary contributions “leads to mistakes”.
“It’s definitely something people should watch out for during tax season,” he said. “Leaving aside the question of whether or not this particular cause is worth it… why is this particular cause on the tax returns?”
In New York, 597,337 taxpayers used H&R Block software to file tax returns last year, according to the state Department of Finance.