NY Politicians Get Alleged “Voluntary Contributions” from Taxpayers Due to Glitch in H&R Block Software - The Jewish Voice
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Monday, September 25, 2023

NY Politicians Get Alleged “Voluntary Contributions” from Taxpayers Due to Glitch in H&R Block Software

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Edited by: TJVNews.com

Now that tax season is upon us, here is a word to the wise. You may not be aware of this but if you filed early with H& R Block, it is advised to doublecheck your New York state tax return.

The New York Post reported that the tax-prep software that H&R Block uses made “voluntarily contributions” on behalf of unsuspecting taxpayers to a new state fund that donates to political campaigns

Speaking to the Post and requesting anonymity, a tax expert discovered what was happening when he completed his sister-in-law’s tax return. What leaped out at him was the fact that she had a balance of $0 that was owed. The expert was perplexed because his sister-in-law is a state pensioner and receives Social Security. That translates into the fact that she does not pay New York taxes.

He told the Post that she asked himself, “She’s got zero taxable income, how can she owe $40?”.

The Post reported that 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 at Lake Placid.

What is a new feature this year is the Campaign Finance Fund. Under new provisions in state law matching contributions will be made to eligible candidates for office. Givers don’t get to direct their donation to a particular party or candidate, according to the Post report.

If you are filing as an individual your contribution must be $40 and those filing jointly can contribute either $40 or $80, as was reported by the Post.

The expert decided to get to the bottom of this quandary by thoroughly examining the returns he did for his sister-in-law. After going over her returns three times, he checked the voluntary contributions on a hunch.

The expert told the Post: “None of the boxes had any entry in it. Yet the program carried over a $40 contribution.” He said that the only way to cancel the automatic contribution was by entering zero manually for the Campaign Finance Fund. He added that this ultimately resolved the error.

After The Post contacted H&R Block, the expert said that the error was fixed before he did other tax returns for friends, as was reported by the Post.

An H&R Block representative told the Post that “H&R Block is aware of this situation, which appears to have impacted a relatively small number of DIY customers in New York. We took immediate action, stopping any additional taxpayers from being impacted. We are taking steps to resolve this issue for those who did not intend to make a contribution to the fund.”

As to how many people were affected by the software glitch was not immediately known

Speaking to the Post, Garrett Watson, a senior policy analyst at the Tax Foundation, said the practice of soliciting voluntary contributions “does lead to mistakes.”

“It’s definitely something folks should look out for in tax season,” he said. “Setting aside the question of whether this particular cause is worthy or not … why is it that this particular cause is on tax returns?”

In New York, 597,337 taxpayers used H&R Block software to file tax returns last year, according to the state finance department, as was reported by the Post.


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