State to refund business owner double-charged for taxes

SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — Like many small businesses, the profit margin at Bartone Jewelry is tight, so its owner, Candace Barber, noticed right away when there were two identical debits from her account in February for Rhode Island state sales tax.

“It should have been taken care of in the first month,” Barber told Call 12 for Action.

But it wasn’t. Barber said she and her tax preparer, Deborah Bettencourt of Lighthouse Financial Services, tried unsuccessfully to get the money refunded.

“If they took the money out, why can’t they put it back in?” Barber asked. “It was easy enough to be withdrawn, it should be easy enough to be put back in.”

Then it happened again in March. Barber showed Call 12 for Action her bank records. There was a double debit for sales tax and a double debit for payroll tax.

“When something like that happens, that takes away from another expense that you were going to pay,” added Barber.

Call 12 for Action checked with the state Division of Taxation. In a statement, Chief Revenue Agent Neil Downing said, “The taxpayer matter you raised is not related to the division of taxation. If we were to discuss the error any further, we would risk breaching state statutes that protect taxpayer confidentiality.”

Bettencourt said the state told her she must have mistakenly entered information twice. She denies the mistake and told Call 12 for Action she has two other clients who were also double-charged for their taxes.

“If the preparer has additional issues she would like to raise with us, we would be happy to discuss those issues with the preparer. We will reach out again to the preparer to allow her to provide us more information,” Downing continued.

According to Bettencourt, the Division of Taxation agreed to refund Barber but didn’t say when the money would be deposited.

If you have a consumer problem you need help solving, contact the Call 12 for Action Center at (401) 228-1850 Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m.