Tax scammed? Two metro Detroit women come to WXYZ for help

Posted at 11:57 AM, May 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-27 11:57:19-04
For Southfield resident Michelle Jackson, tax season has been a taxing ordeal.

She says she hired Delila DePriest of royalty tax services to handle her 2016 filing --- but after three months of waiting for her federal return, she started to grow anxious.

After getting in touch with the IRS, Jackson learned her federal tax filing had been rejected four times.

Cherie Caleb says she found herself in a similar predicament. While her state return came through, the federal was nowhere to be found. 

Soon after, she would learn she was being audited.

The IRS explained to Jackson and Caleb that the problem stemmed -- in part --  from a form their tax preparer filed claiming they had health insurance under the affordable care act

"I told her, I have my own insurance, so why even do that? Why file that?" said Caleb.

But DePriest -- they say --  dodged the answer.

While they didn’t get answers, they did have to pay up.

$767 hundred dollars in tax filing fees for Caleb and more than $500 for Jackson…

"It appears to me she’s taking a percentage -- depending on what she says you’re getting back, she’s taking 10 percent," says Jackson.

DePriest arranged to deduct her fees directly from the client’s tax return itself by routing the returns to a third party bank account first -- all while leaving the women in the dark about how much she’d be collecting.

Shane Barry of the Michigan Association of CPAs says the practice is questionable. 

"On an original return, filed with the IRS and state of Michigan the refund should be sent to the taxpayer, not the tax preparer."

Barry also said the exorbitant fees --- based on projected returns --- were a huge red flag.

Delilah of Royalty Tax Services told us it was the IRS that set those high fees due to certain forms being filed.

And she also said she blamed the IRS for the tax return rejection and audit of her former clients.

The IRS tells us they never determine preparers fees.

After we spoke to Delilah by phone, Jackson did get a check for her federal return.

However, Caleb is still facing an audit. The women have requested their money back, which Delilah has seemingly declined.

Our Taking Action team has linked the women up with the Detroit IRS field office.

If you're having any issues with your tax preparer, e-mail the IRS office at

The Michigan Association of CPAs has released this guide on what to look out for when hiring a tax preparer