Tax Masters - TaxMasters took my money and did not perform
I fell for their adds heard on O'Reilly's TV and radio shows. I had a few years of unfiled returns and learned an IRS Revenue Officer was trying to get in contact with me. Needless to say, I became quite fearful. So, what did I do-I contacted TaxMasters to help me.
When I called them on 10/26/09, I spoke with a tax consultant who advised me not to contact the IRS officer and told me he would email me their Engagement Agreement and power of attorney forms to sign and send back so that they could contact the IRS on my behalf. After signing and emailing the forms back, they immediately debited my bank account for $1,920 as the down payment toward a total bill of $5,750.00. This amount seemed quite high but I signed the agreement out of desperation-thinking they were going to help me.
A little over a week later I received a letter, along with some forms to fill out, from TM. The letter was dated 11/03/09. One of the enclosed form was a 433a packet with instructions to, "...[P]lease fill it out and return it to our offices on or after 1/22/2010. The other forms were for information for the unfiled tax return years, a supplemental agreement for two additional tax years and an invoice for another $400.00 to prepare the returns.
While in the process of filling out the forms, I received a letter dated 10/29/09 from the IRS on 11/10/09. The letter stated that unless I pay the amount owed, make alternative arrangements to pay, or provide additional information within 30 days from the date of the letter, further collection will be taken.
Upon receipt of the letter, I called the TM consultant, left a voice-mail message, and then emailed a copy of the letter to him. I presumed the letter was passed along to the right person and that my interests were protected. That was not the case because on 11/25/09 I learned that a commission check I was expecting, from the agency I work through, had been levyed by the IRS. I immediately called TM and left several voice mail messages and got an email response on 11/30/09 indicating they would have someone from operations call me that day.
I finally spoke with one of their attorneys, Tyler Deck, on 12/02/09, who said unless I become compliant by filing all unfiled returns, he could not get the levy removed. I asked him if he had spoken with the revenue officer to which he replied he hadn't. I told him I had prepared all of the returns and would file them, which I did on 12/07/09 at the local IRS office. I dropped off copies of the filed returns to TM on 12/08/09.
I made numerous follow up phone calls to Mr. Deck only to leave unreturned voice mail messages. When I finally spoke with Mr. Deck, he said he would call the IRS to let them know I filed the returns. Then on 12/10/09 another commission check was levied. Again, I tried to contact Mr. Deck leaving numerous messages for him to call. Finally, I learned he was out of the office until after the holidays. I was able to contact another person in operations, on 12/28/09, who had me sign more power of attorney forms so he could talk to the IRS.
After signing and returning the forms, I did not hear from anyone at TM. So, on 01/06/10 I contacted the IRS revenue officer who told me the file had been transferred to the local office. He also told me the only contact he had with TM was a voice-mail message from Mr. Deck, whom he called back and left a message. The revenue officer told me the only reason the levy was filed was due to no response to his 10/29/09 letter. He suggested I go to the local IRS office to see if my case has been assigned. I did this on 01/14/10 and spoke with a revenue officer who was very helpful in assisting me with developing a plan of action to resolve my tax debt. Actually, I learned more in 20 minutes with the IRS than I did in 3 months with TM.
So, on 1/26/10 I delivered a termination letter to the TM office and spoke with a supervising consultant, Mr. McCallister (who by the way offered me a job as one of their consultants). I explained the issues I had and he intimated there have been similar problems with Mr. Deck. In my letter I cited the reason for terminating their services was for lack of performance and was also requesting reimbursement of the some $3,100 ($1,200 of which was for tax return preparation) I paid in fees. He said he would pass my letter along and I would be hearing from a Jeff Welch. When I did not hear from Mr. Welch, I called him several times, leaving voice mail messages that were never responded to. So, I paid another visit to TM on 2/01/10 and met with Dewayne Logan, their Quality Assurance Director. He told me they were investigating the matter and would let me know the outcome in the next several days.
After not hearing from anyone at TM after leaving messages for Logan and Welch, I again went to TM on 2/05/10. I met with Jeff Welch, a man very small in stature, who listened to my quick summary of my concerns and then proceeded to tell they will not be refunding any of the fees they collected from me and that I should leave. I pointed out the agreement I signed stipulates, "If Client has paid more than the minimum fee...a refund will be paid." I asked him what is the minimum then. He again stated he doesn't care what the agreement says, I was not getting any of my money back. I requested to speak to the office manager and was told that was not going to happen. I then calmly insisted I be allowed to speak with the manager. Mr. Welch got up and left the room, I thought to get the manager. (Here's where it gets really interesting) He returned in about five minutes with a policeman to have me escorted from the building.
So, it is quite apparent to me from everything I've read about TaxMasters and my personal experience, they are nothing more than a "mill" that preys upon those of us needing help with tax problems. I've been in their office which has an entire floor of the building filled with tax consultants, who are nothing more than trained salespeople. They take your money and essentially ignore you until you reach a point where you become so frustrated you either terminate the agreement and go to a legitimate tax professional or try to take care of the problem yourself. In my case, I had already prepared my returns, but was still charged a fee by TM to prepare the returns. I also learned that in most cases the IRS is willing to work with a taxpayer to resolve any tax issues.
I will do whatever I can to see that this doesn't happen to others. I have started the process of filing complaints with every government agency that may have jurisdiction over TaxMasters unscrupulous practices.