The dark ages of tax preparation: The tax refund process before Refundo.
The income tax industry often gets a bad rap, especially when it comes to the refunding process. To ordinary taxpayers — especially those hailing from grossly unbanked and underbanked communities — the prices they get charged seem completely arbitrary. Most have no idea where their money goes. Junk fees and exorbitant rates for routine tax preparations tend to needlessly penalize those who are just trying to make ends meet. To make matters worse, the ones hardest hit by these unnecessary charges are often those who can least afford it.
With big software providers maintaining a virtual monopoly over the necessary products and technologies that tax preparers use, it isn’t just the public that’s held hostage, however. EROs and accountants themselves are given very little wiggle room when it comes to pricing. The excessive prices these companies charge tax preparers — for the equipment they require and services they provide — end up getting carried over into the final price tags they present to their customers. At least, this is what they’re forced to do if they want to continue making a living at all.
Enter Refundo. The brainchild of two young Hispanic immigrants and software pioneers, Roger Chinchilla and Grimaldy Dominguez, Refundo was launched in June 2011 as a way to help provide EROs and tax preparers with an affordable alternative to the software, devices, and tax operations they’ve been buying from the big companies. Roger and Grimaldy (“Grim” for short) may be young, but they’ve worked in the field long enough to know all the various ways that tax preparers (and, by extension, their customers) get “nickel and dimed” by behemothic tech firms and banks demanding unreasonable expenses.
Having grown up in communities where access to banking services was a luxury and where paying your taxes was often last-minute scramble for most, Grim and Roger have seen the real social consequences that result from this. From all their years of experience within the industry, however, they know that there’s more to the story than that. Through Refundo, they aim to make the tax refund process easier and more affordable for everyone: tax preparer and taxpayer alike.
Since it first took off, the company has managed to generate a lot of buzz. Not long ago, the duo was featured in a spot for CNN Money discussing the nature of their product and their reasons for designing it. They explained the company’s broader social mission and highlighted its commitment to effecting long-term, meaningful change for marginalized communities. In order to accomplish this, Refundo is also looking to provide tax preparers with a better option to serve their clients, working with them to lower costs. “We thought the only way we could make a change is with technology,” Roger stated in the interview.
From the start, Refundo’s guiding spirit has been that given the proper means, nothing is impossible. With the right tools and technologies, all kinds of obstacles can be overcome. “The ‘impossible’ usually only takes about a week to solve” — that’s the general attitude Refundo takes. By cutting out the middlemen — bypassing the bloated banks and prehistoric products of big software companies — Refundo is poised to deliver state-of-the-art apps and financial products to both industry operatives and the taxpaying public.
But this is only the beginning. Big plans are in the works over at Refundo, and streamlining the tax refund process is just one of them. Regardless of where Refundo chooses to go, however, its members will never forget the communities they came from, or their sense of duty to serve the underserved, and to help tax preparers in turn better serve their own clients. Moreover, with their “nothing is impossible” attitude and peerless practical ingenuity, Refundo stands at the frontlines of future banking and accounting technologies.