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6434 posts

Uber Geek
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Topic # 64658 20-Jul-2010 01:17
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on or around the end of November 2008  (yes that long ago)  I heard about this taxrefunds website and created an account using an email address reserved for spam to see how it all worked.
I've filed my own tax returns before, and will continue to do so in the future, so wasn;t interested in them actually making the claim, I simply was interested in what their estimate would say

I put in some numbers for my prior year earnings to get an estimate to see if I was owed anything.  Turns out I was owed some paltry sum in the region of $20 for the 2008 year and a similar amount for the 2007 year.  Since you pay tax refunds $12.50 fee for refunds that low it was hardly worth me bothering submitting the request officially, so I didn't bother.  Just left it as an estimate.  Thinking back, I'm not even 100% sure I used the correct income $$$ either. I might have even guessed a few just to see how the process worked.

I got occasional emails from them saying "you have outstanding tax refunds still unclaimed"...blah blah blah... into my spam email box and thought nothing of it.

now roll on to today, more than 18 months after my initial estimate.  I log into my 'spam' email box as I occaisionally do to make sure nothing good has gotten in there and find this in today's inbox:

"Your refund is in your bank account
Your tax refund for the 2008 tax year has been deposited into the bank account provided."

 

and a similar email for the 2007 year.

WTF?

Although they are technically my tax agents (it;s a condition of creating the account) and as such can speak to the IRD on my behalf I never gave them authority to make any specific filing. I only asked for an estimate. It is called an ESTIMATE for a reason.

I look back a couple of days further in my inbox and see this:

 

"Recently we sent you an e-mail to let you know you are owed tax refunds for the following years:








  • 2007





  • 2008








As your authorised Tax Agent we will be processing this claim and sending your refund to the postal address provided unless we hear from you in 48 hours."

 

so they have taken my inaction replying to them on the subject of an 18 month old estimate, having been given only 48 hours notice, as confirmation that I want my refund processed.  What a crock.


 

It has only been one day, so the money might show up in my account in a few days time, but I don't remember ever giving them my bank details either.  I log into taxrefunds.co.nz for the first time in 18 months (have to get password reset cos I forgot it) and find I never filled out the bank details form on the 'my account' page.

So firstly www.taxrefunds.co.nz , how will the money actually turn up in my account?

If it doesn't, then I suspect you have a rogue employee who is going through old estimates and arrnagin for them to be claimed in his name.

If it does show up in my account somehow, or get a cheque, then shame on you taxrefunds.co.nz for making a claim I never asked you to make.

If the IRD decide my tax year requires an audit because of your shenanigans I am going to be so annoyed.

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137 posts

Master Geek
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  Reply # 353707 20-Jul-2010 01:39
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would you not be giving them authority to act on your behalf when you make them your agent, which you admit to having done.....
also giving a ird tax agent a dodgy email (spam box) are you not opening your self up to missing important emails from them, and inaction on a contract can be construed as acceptance of the contract terms. 
If you did not like the initial estimate, or what you found when you initially signed up you should have sent an email revoking any authority to act as your tax agent, which I am guessing you failed to do.

at the end of the day this is a situation you created and then thru inaction exacerbated the issue by ignoring their emails as spam, well thats the way I interpret it.

but I fail to see where they are making false claims, they are working on the information you provided them...
 



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  Reply # 353710 20-Jul-2010 01:46
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one thing forgot to add,

their FAQ says

"How long does it take to claim your refund?
Once you receive your email of a refund estimate, just sign in to your account to view your completed tax refund report, and find out how much you are owed before claiming it back. To claim you must enter your bank account details.

Confirm the details in your tax refund report are correct before checking the two declaration boxes then simply submit and we will file your refund with the IRD. "


I never followed through this step. I never signed in, I never ticked the declaration, I never gave them my bank details.


loggin into my taxrefunds account I can see the timeline of each year. this is for the 2008 year

Progress
30-11-2008 11:37 Application received - preparing estimate
30-11-2008 20:22 Estimated tax credit
30-10-2009 11:13 Application received - preparing estimate
31-10-2009 02:04 Estimated tax credit
18-06-2010 17:36 Application received - preparing estimate
18-06-2010 20:47 Estimated tax credit
06-07-2010 11:59 Confirmation Received
06-07-2010 13:29 PTS Request sent to IRD
08-07-2010 02:25 PTS Report confirmed by TaxRefunds.co.nz
08-07-2010 14:08 Submitted to Inland Revenue
12-07-2010 16:14 IRD Payment received: $xx.xx
19-07-2010 15:05 Return processed successfully


it shows that they tried to process my refund several times, but because I never made the confirmation they did not process it.
somehow this process 'magically' worked at the end of June and they 'recieved confirmation' despite me never actually doing anything, certianly never ticking any declaration, and never putting in my bank details.



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  Reply # 353711 20-Jul-2010 01:47
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kontonnz: would you not be giving them authority to act on your behalf when you make them your agent, which you admit to having done.....
also giving a ird tax agent a dodgy email (spam box) are you not opening your self up to missing important emails from them, and inaction on a contract can be construed as acceptance of the contract terms. 
If you did not like the initial estimate, or what you found when you initially signed up you should have sent an email revoking any authority to act as your tax agent, which I am guessing you failed to do.

at the end of the day this is a situation you created and then thru inaction exacerbated the issue by ignoring their emails as spam, well thats the way I interpret it.

but I fail to see where they are making false claims, they are working on the information you provided them...
 


the dodgy claim is referring to their claim to the IRD of my refund which I never authorised them to make.

see my other post.  Even after they give the estimate, they require you to tick declaration boxes and provide bank details to proceed with the payment.  I never did this.  they should not have processed it.


I can also see on their website that the 2005 tax year is supposeldy due a refund but that section says

 Awaiting Confirmation - According to our records you are eligible for a tax refund. However before we can submit your refund to the Inland Revenue we need you to confirm the return details, authorizing us to proceed and provide us with a valid bank account that we can pay the refund into.


So they can't proceed with the 2005 refund because I have not confirmed the details and nor have I provided them with bank account details.
strangely this doesn't seem to apply to the 2007 and 2008 tax years

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  Reply # 353728 20-Jul-2010 06:29
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I guess it comes down to the fine print. Most of these companies all automatically become your tax agent which gives them the right to handle all of this for you without even asking you. Their FAQ is very clear about this.


If you apply for a free estimate with TaxRefunds.co.nz Ltd we will become your new Registered Tax Agent. This means your previous Registered Tax Agent will no longer be your tax agent.


I wouldn't go near any of them and suspect we're going to hear a lot more stories like this in the future as people realise what they have actually signed themselves up to without reading the fine print. Many of these companies have only started in the past year.

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  Reply # 353834 20-Jul-2010 11:45
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Also, unless you fully intend to use their services, don't even sign up. And never give an email you don't check regularly - as part of being your agent, they receive all communications from the IRD regarding your taxes - the IRD will no longer send them to you. The majority of these places will then scan in the communications and email them - which if it's a "you owe us money" that you don't see because you don't read that mailbox, could result in hundreds or even thousands of dollars in penalties.




I finally have fibre!  Had to leave the country to get it though.


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  Reply # 353843 20-Jul-2010 11:58
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NonprayingMantis:


 

It has only been one day, so the money might show up in my account in a few days time, but I don't remember ever giving them my bank details either.  I log into taxrefunds.co.nz for the first time in 18 months (have to get password reset cos I forgot it) and find I never filled out the bank details form on the 'my account' page.

So firstly www.taxrefunds.co.nz , how will the money actually turn up in my account?

If it doesn't, then I suspect you have a rogue employee who is going through old estimates and arrnagin for them to be claimed in his name.

If it does show up in my account somehow, or get a cheque, then shame on you taxrefunds.co.nz for making a claim I never asked you to make.

If the IRD decide my tax year requires an audit because of your shenanigans I am going to be so annoyed.


Id contact them and ask what bank account you gave them.... say youve changed banks or something so the one they have is probably incorrect.




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  Reply # 353886 20-Jul-2010 13:13
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On a related note, isn't it easier now to just do it yourself through the IRD website? I did this last year and to get my refund I just had to create an account, click a few boxes and the deposit was automatic. Perhaps the IRD has your bank account and the tax refund company just goes through the same process.

Seemed way easy to me, so I'm not sure why people use these companies, though my tax situation is relatively simple. I've always been concerned at signing this over to a company and this thread only confirms my fears. Anyway, I must check and see if I can claim my refund yet for last year...

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Master Geek


  Reply # 353889 20-Jul-2010 13:15
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In my view the first call should be made to the IRD. Explain what's happened and that you're concerned the amounts entered may not be accurate because you were just wanting to get a feel of whether it was worth it etc. Make a note of when you called, who you spoke to, and what they said. Even better follow it up with a letter. Follow their advice - clearly from your explanation you had absolutely no intent to defraud and in fact were just 'testing the water' so to speak, but if something happened later on and you hadn't been pro-active and clear with them things could go very pear-shaped .

You don't want to get on the wrong side of the IRD .

Once you've done that, and depending upon what the IRD tell you, you then have the option of contacting the company direct or possibly the Commerce Commission/Lawyer/Police depending on how far you want to take it and your level of concern at what's happened.

Good luck, I'd be incensed if someone did something, supposedly acting for me, when I was under the clear impression I was just 'trialing' a website service that I didn't expect - or ask - to be actioned 'for real'. I'd be horrified/terrified if it involved supplying the IRD with potentially inaccurate figures...

Cheers, P.


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Master Geek
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  Reply # 353899 20-Jul-2010 13:32
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a couple of points.

1)  In their standard terms and conditions when you make them your agent (which the original poster acknowledges he did) you grant them full authority to claim any refunds on your behalf.  regardless of tick box, they are an acknowledged IRD agent by the original poster. 
2) if they don't have your bank details to deposit any funds then usually they will collect the money and then forward it to you in check form.. (this sounds like what could have happened if they have claimed a refund)
3) the original poster admits he lied/smudged the facts about his income.  Seriously not a smart thing to do with an IRD tax agent even if your playing, they are not..
4) as per the terms on their web site the original poster never removed them from being his tax agent, yet he gave them authority to act on his behalf. 


if this is escalated via a complaints procedure I honestly don't think it would go far.  If your looking for estimates on potential refunds the IRD website is the best thing for this;not a tax agents web site looking to acquire clients  

at the end of the day this is someone who failed to read the fine print and now is upset about it, i've done this myself so I feel the pain, but that does not mean they are making dodgy claims.... 

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  Reply # 353920 20-Jul-2010 14:21
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From what I understand the first thing to do would be to talk to the IRD and cancek their authority to act as your tax Agent. As I understand it until you cancel that authority they will continue to receive all communication from the IRD on your behalf. This will stop the situation from at least becoming worse



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Uber Geek
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  Reply # 353926 20-Jul-2010 14:29
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I read the fine print. the fine print was very clear that they would only proceed with a claim if I expressly gave them permission to do so.
this was backed up by their actions over the last 18 months - sending me reminders every so often saying "please contact us to get your refund" and never going ahead and processing the estimate until now.

also the FAQ says:
"before we can submit your refund to the Inland Revenue we need you to confirm the return details, authorizing us to proceed and provide us with a valid bank account that we can pay the refund into."

Can't get much clearer than that.  I have never confirmed the return details, never authorised them to proceed. I never gave them my bank details. they simply took my inaction for a mere 48 hours as an authority to proceed and the money has gone somewhere, who knows where.
Now in my case it was an email adress I don't check all that often. But what if I had simply been away from my email for 3 days? Can such a short notice period be justifed for something so that was originated 18 months ago?

the word 'estimate' has a very clear meaning - by it's definition it is not held out to be an accurate number. that is why they ask for yor declaration before submitting your actual refund claim - to change your estimate into your confirmed amount. 
They would have to confrim to the IRD that I made the declaration. since I have not done so they are essentially defrauding the IRD

If you ask a builder to give you an estimate to build a deck for you, giving him permission to come on your land to work out the size, cost etc, and then 18 months later come home from a 2 week holiday to find a new deck in your yard, a bill in your mailbox fo rthe amount of the 'estimate', and a card dated the day you left saying  "18 months ago you asked for an estimate for a deck, despite your lack of interest in the intervening time, if you do not call us within 2 days we will assume you want to go ahead with the deck and so we will build it and bill you. BTW we still have permission to go onto your land from 18 months ago. you never told us it was rescinded." you would be plenty annoyed.
This is basically what has happened here.

thanks Phaedrus for the advice. I've emailed taxrefunds firstly to ask them to explain what has happened. If they cannot explain then I'll go to the IRD 

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Master Geek


  Reply # 353929 20-Jul-2010 14:32
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IlDuce: I haven't had/got time to read the above 2 posts right this second, but can anyone tell me what is the penalty for someone who needs to do an IR3 by July 7 who hasnt done so???


Oh bugger! As the previous poster has said, give them a call. As I noted earlier make a point of when you called, who you spoke to, what was said and advised. Explain exactly what has happened, if this is somehow provable (that is to say you have actual evidence to support your statement) it would be very good to have that to hand.

I think they may have their schedule of penalties on their website, they can be fairly draconian which IMO is unreasonable when something's a clear mistake with no intent to defraud. I believe they may acknowledge this at times and you could get a sympathetic hearing from them - but that's heresay on my part so please don't quote or hang your hat on it!

Cheers, P.

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  Reply # 353943 20-Jul-2010 14:46
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So very dodgy indeed.

I would ring up the IRD and tell them that they are no longer your tax agents. It's that easy:)

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Uber Geek
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  Reply # 353964 20-Jul-2010 15:06
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Since someone has quoted me after I deleted what I said, here is my situation...

I went to tax accountant last year for first time to get my return done. Just a one off to see how accurate my own calculations were.

I found out after that my many long hours of work producing documents, compiling receipts, etc for tax accountant for 08-09 was in vain as soon as I walked out the door they "binned" them and did per km rates, something I could have done myself if I had known they were going to be so lazy!

Because of this I decided this year to just do per km rates as well, to simplify the matter even though I might end up paying a lot more tax, but I would save paying the accountant to get fat on me.

However this year, I did not get the correspondence from IRD, I did not receive a personal tax summary, and missed the July 7 deadline for IR3 which I was unaware of as I was not getting any letters, as they were going to the tax accountant, something I had no idea was happening.

Now I have no choice but to return to tax accountant again, as if I don't I face a late filing fee.

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  Reply # 353974 20-Jul-2010 15:15
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IlDuce: Since someone has quoted me after I deleted what I said, here is my situation...

I went to tax accountant last year for first time to get my return done. Just a one off to see how accurate my own calculations were.

I found out after that my many long hours of work producing documents, compiling receipts, etc for tax accountant for 08-09 was in vain as soon as I walked out the door they "binned" them and did per km rates, something I could have done myself if I had known they were going to be so lazy!

Because of this I decided this year to just do per km rates as well, to simplify the matter even though I might end up paying a lot more tax, but I would save paying the accountant to get fat on me.

However this year, I did not get the correspondence from IRD, I did not receive a personal tax summary, and missed the July 7 deadline for IR3 which I was unaware of as I was not getting any letters, as they were going to the tax accountant, something I had no idea was happening.

Now I have no choice but to return to tax accountant again, as if I don't I face a late filing fee.


I wondered what was going on there, I searched for your original post and didn't find it.

Contact the IRD and make sure they don't still have the accountant recorded as being your tax agent.

File the return NOW.

I'm a perpetual procrastinator so I'm familiar with the IRD "hurry up" process (at least as far as it applies to those using accountants).

What normally happens is
- for 1st 30 days nothing
- issue threatening letter giving you 30 days to file or face penalties

Our returns have always gone in either on time or before the expiry of the deadline in the letter so we have not (yet) been charged a late filing fee.

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