Legal Question in Tax Law in Indiana

Deadbeat Tax Preparer

Help! My boyfriend took his taxes to a friend of a friend to be done. That was for 2001, and they still haven't been filed. The preparer told him (in Oct 2002) that he had filed an extension for 2001, but that the taxes were done and the only thing my boyfriend had to do was pick them up and mail them. Ever since then, it's been nothing but excuses as to why my boyfriend can't have them. (He left them in his office, he does'nt know where they are, he's too busy during tax season to look for them, etc.) He also has been giving us excuses about the 2002 return as well. Neither return has been filed as of yet, and now my boyfriend is getting letters from the IRS wondering why he hasn't filed taxes. The preparer now refuses to answer his door or answer his phone, so my boyfrien can't even get ahold of him to get his w-2's and other info back. Is there any way we can get the police involved so that we can force him to give my boyfriend his w-2s and reciepts back to him? Or will we have to sue? My boyfriend just wants his stuff back so that he can give it to a competent professional to do his taxes and get it all over with...but now we're afraid the IRS is going to come after him before he can get that chance.

Asked on 6/25/03, 11:54 am

2 Answers from Attorneys

Lawrence Graves Coolidge & Graves PLLC

Re: Deadbeat Tax Preparer

Send a copy of the IRS correspondence to the tax preparer by certified mail (return receipt requested) and another one by regular mail. Put in your cover letter that you will refer the IRS to the preparer to ascertain why the returns were not filed.

The IRS can sanction tax preparers, including barring them from further representation of taxpayers, so I expect that this will elicit a reply or at least the return of your tax documents.

Meanwhile, call whatever number is listed on the IRS letter, tell them the situation, and explain that returns will be filed as soon as the tax documents can be recovered from the tax preparer. I also suggest that you hire a real accountant (CPA) to help you fix this mess.

After the dust settles, you might consider filing a small claims court action agains the tax preparer to recover the interest and penalties (if any) that ultimately are assessed. Since these are a function of the amount of tax owed, it could be nothing at all (if the taxpayer over-withheld).

Best wishes,


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Answered on 6/25/03, 12:31 pm
John Cook Dunn & Cook

Re: Deadbeat Tax Preparer

I agree with the advice given by Mr. Graves. The only thing I would add is that I would assume the worst, and start working on getting back up information to take to another tax preparer in case the old preparer no longer has the documents your boyfriend turned over to him.

As a CPA and attorney, I get these cases in every once in awhile, and the biggest problem is simply reconstructing the taxpayer's records. if your boyfriend had wages, interest income and possibly mortgage interest, then these records are failry easy to get copies for, or to get alternative forms of support. For example, if I were your boyfriend I would ask his employer for a copy of his 2001 and 2002 W-2. Most companies' payroll depts keep copies on hand for at least a year or two. If he has changed jobs and the ex-employer is not helpful, then he can use year-end payroll statements that show year-to-date earnings and withholdings. If all else fails, then the IRS can be contacted and they can generate a report showing all reported income from W-2s and 1099 statements for any taxpayer for any given year.

Good luck.

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Answered on 6/25/03, 3:04 pm

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