3 ON YOUR SIDE: City cracks down on tax prep signs
There are hundreds of signs for the business posted throughout the city, mostly in low income neighborhoods, advertising to do your taxes and suggesting you'll get a big refund from the IRS.
Friday, March 6th 2015, 3:12 pm EST
Friday, March 6th 2015, 4:06 pm EST
Taxamize. Maybe you've seen the signs.
There's hundreds posted throughout the city, mostly in low income neighborhoods, advertising to do your taxes and suggesting you'll get a big refund from the IRS.
The City of Chattanooga said the Atlanta-based company does not have a local business license and its signs are breaking city code.
The City's Land Development Office wants the signs gone.
"When you place signs in a city right of way, to trees, fences, yard stakes, those are against our city ordinance sign violations,” said Zoning Inspector Gary Robkin.
Robkin said tax season always has an increase in sign violations. But Taxamize, he said, is especially aggressive.
Robkin says it happens every tax season: sign violations from people wanting to do your taxes. But Tax
"It's an ongoing game. We go in and remove them and they come in right behind us and put them up after hours,” he said.
Robkin said the business actually has no local business license and no business address. There's no record of Taxamize Accounting through the Hamilton County Clerk's Office. Taxamize told us they do have a local business license but would not send us a copy.
The three Taxamize workers briefly operated out of a Brainerd Road building in February. But the city learned the crew was also living out of that office from February 4-13. When the landlord learned the tenants were sleeping in the office, they had the police help escort them off the property on Friday, Feb. 13.
Channel 3 called the number advertised on the Taxamize signs and spoke with a woman who would not identify herself.
She also wouldn't give their newest location.
“We have several offices and several mobile tax preparers,” she said. “You can go to the website and look them up.”
Is Taxamize breaking city code? Yes. Is it breaking other laws? Not necessarily. The IRS will let anyone open up shop anywhere to file taxes as long as they're filing correctly.
But the Better Business Bureau said those signs should raise a red flag.
"A sign that's on the corner, on a tree or on a telephone pole that should raise a flag and you should be very cautious about doing your business with someone such as that,” said Jim Winsett, President of the Chattanooga Better Business Bureau. "The Better Business Bureau report on Taxamize out of Atlanta has an F rating, they have 9 complaints filed against them and they have not responded to any of those complaints."
The IRS reminds you that you're responsible for everything on the return, even when its prepared by someone else. They recommend you “choose a tax preparer that will be around to answer questions after the return has been filed.”