I hired a tax attorney to address a back tax issue. The attorney referred all his clients to an accountant with whom he shared an office for the actual compilation/modification of tax forms/returns.
The accountant amended two federal and one state tax return for me. Upon completion of the tax return, I was advised by the attorney to write a single check payable to the accountant to cover the accountant's fee as well as for the amount due the IRS. I was additionally instructed by the accountant to notate on the "FOR" line of the check: "payment of federal (or state) taxes".
When I questioned the attorney about this, he explained the accountant insisted all if his client does this as he wanted to ensure not only that he received payment for his work but to also ensure the IRS did as well. Hence, he would exchange the amount to be paid to the IRS for money orders payable to the IRS and then provide a receipt.... which I did receive.
Weeks later I received a notice from the IRS regarding a levy for the back taxes I had allegedly paid. I contacted the attorney who assured me it must be a mistake and that he would ensure the accountant got to the bottom of it.
An arrest record regarding the accountant appeared in the newspaper yesterday for several counts of theft by conversion. Upon tracking down the investigating detective, I was informed he had been investigating the accountant for several weeks who had several past convictions for the converting payments intended for the IRS to himself.
The tax attorney told the detective as he did me, that he had no knowledge the accountant was converting money from his clients and that he severed their working about the time the investigation began because "he did not like his business practices".
Needless to say the funds I paid the accountant never made it to the IRS. And perhaps worse, the IRS is ticked off because promised payments were not received and have threatened to levy all accounts.
Does the tax attorney harbor any responsibility for the even bigger mess I now find myself in?
1 Answer from Attorneys
Get a malpractice attorney immediately. You may have a cause of action against the attorney, who gave you advice that only a criminal would have given, as no reputable atorney would have recommended what he did.
I also suggest you file a disciplinary complaint with the state bar. A lawyer suggesting such contact may face disbarment.
Finally, get a new tax attorney and determine what you should do. Also determine if you should cooperate in the likely future criminal investigation of the lawyer.
If what you said is true, there is a strong possibility that the attorney is a co-conspirator in a crime, and there is certainly no room in the bar for anyone that would counsel a client to do what you said he told you to do.