DAYTON, Ohio, Feb. 21, 2012 // PRNewswire // -- Instant Tax Service, a nationwide retail tax preparation company, announced today that they are on target to prepare a record number of tax returns this season on behalf of their customers.
President and CEO of Instant Tax Service, Fez Ogbazion, says that despite this being "the hardest year" he can remember in his 20 years in the industry, his company is on target to prepare over 200,000 tax returns this season.
A troubled economy, continued unemployment, and tighter lending standards have hit millions of Americans hard over the last few years. Ogbazion credits his company's milestone to the resilience of his franchisees – hardworking entrepreneurs who continue to drive the company's success.
Tighter lending standards and skyrocketing credit card interest rates meant it was tougher for ordinary Americans to provide for their families during the holidays. Instant Tax Service gave out over 100,000 pre-season advances between December 19th, 2011 and January 17th, 2012 to assist families struggling with holiday expenses.
Tough lending practices also impacted Instant Tax Service's business. Forgoing traditional banking partners, Ogbazion turned to private investors and raised $20 million in funding for the company's pre-season advances. These pre-season advances helped win new business for the company by encouraging customers to return to Instant Tax Service locations to file their tax returns.
For years, the majority of Instant Tax Service customers used the services of check cashing companies to process their tax refund checks or pre-season advances. This often resulted in a loss of 4% or more of the check amount to check cashing fees.
Ogbazion led an effort to partner with local banks to process these large check amounts at a reduced cost. The company formed partnerships with both a local and national bank to offer customers flat check cashing fees of just $10 and $6, respectively. To date, the program has been a great success, saving customers hundreds of dollars in fees.
This tax season, the IRS transitioned from its traditional legacy e-filing system to a new Modernized e-File Program. Though the system has many advantages, some first-year growing pains resulted in a one-week delay in processing taxpayer refunds. The IRS delay negatively impacted many taxpayers who had anticipated receiving large refund checks in late January, including Instant Tax Service customers.
Due to the IRS delay, many of the company's first-year locations struggled to establish a positive relationship with new customers who were unaware of the reason for the IRS delay.
Additionally, the IRS's elimination of debt indicators – which helped tax preparers explain situations in which the IRS had withheld a portion of a customer's refund to fulfill a prior debt – also resulted in in-store delays. However, offices continued to work closely with customers to determine the nature of the debt.
Instant Tax Service also partnered with CrossLink® Professional Tax software this tax season to further modernize and streamline their tax preparation process. The new software has enabled the company to digitally scan and record taxpayer information for filing with customers' tax returns. Customers can also now digitally sign their tax return on a touchscreen signature right at the tax office. The system has helped offices reduce or eliminate errors, and resulted in more thorough and accurate tax preparation records.
The software is currently being used at over 80% of Instant Tax Service locations. The migration is expected to be complete at all Instant Tax Service locations by December 2012.
Marked improvements to both the company's infrastructure and its innovative business partnerships have put Instant Tax Service on target for a record year. Ogbazion said, "I'm pleased to see our company achieve its greatest performance in its 12-year history. We look forward to finishing out the tax season strong and breaking even more records next year."
Instant Tax Service is a nationwide retail tax preparation company. Founded by Fez Ogbazion in 2000 and franchising since 2004, Instant Tax Service offers tax preparation, electronic filing, and pre-season advance services. For more information, visit www.instanttaxservice.com