The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

September 28, 2013

Wary taxpayer feared notice was scam

By Joanne Arbogast
The Daily Item

NORTHUMBERLAND — Laura W., 78, of Northumberland, recently received a notice from Berkheimer Tax Administrator Services that claimed “According to our records, your Local Earned Income Tax Return has not been filed ... .”

She was alarmed for a number of reasons. “They had the wrong name” on the notice, she said. “There is no such person.” And the address was slightly wrong.

In addition, “there were a whole bunch of questions they were asking me to answer,” she said, and she was supposed to provide documentation she had paid the tax.

Finally, she was to mail all of this information, along with a past-due payment, to an address in Lehigh Valley.

She called the phone number listed (at 610-599-3139) and was asked for the last four digits of her Social Security number. When she explained the name and address on the letter were wrong, she was asked for her correct name and address.

Being asked for — and providing — so much personal information by a company not even in the local area, Laura became concerned it might be a scam and hung up. She put in a call to her tax preparer and another call to The Daily Item.

It’s not a scam. But plenty of Pennsylvanians have been concerned enough about receiving the notices that forums have cropped up online seeking clarification.

Berkheimer, based in Lehigh Valley, collects local earned income tax for some jurisdictions in Pennsylvania under contract with the taxing authorities and Northumberland County is among them.

There are penalties and interest for failing to file on time. If you have received a similar reminder notice, you can visit Berkheimer’s website at www.hab-inc.com and under “Taxpayer Info” click on “Earned Income Tax FAQ” for more information.

In Laura’s case, because the letter was addressed to someone else and the address was incorrect, there’s a good chance the notice was not meant for her. A call to Berkheimer to question Laura’s notice was unsuccessful. There was a long wait before someone answered then that person transferred the call to a supervisor. Next, the supervisor forwarded the call to the legal department where a recorded message said the person we needed to speak with was out of the office.

Hopefully Laura’s tax preparer will be able to ease Laura’s concerns.