We follow the tax relief industry fairly closely. There are many fine lawyers, accountants and enrolled agents ready and able to help taxpayers with IRS collection problems. Then, of course, there are those companies that spend zillions of dollars on sleazy TV and radio ads. (Who can forget Roni Deutch and her ads hyping how she could somehow make huge tax debts simply disappear for “just $20.”)
JK Harris. Roni Deutch. TaxMasters. The newest entry to the Hall of Shame? American Tax Relief. This week the Federal Trade Commission ordered the company ordered the company to pay $16 million to 18,571 former customers. The FTC says the company bilked their customers by falsely claiming they could reduce their tax debts.
While $16 million sounds like a lot of money, the government says that former customers will receive back just 16 cents on the dollar. People already struggling financially have lost tens of millions of dollars to fraudsters who claimed they could help.
Where is the rest of the money? The FTC says it was spent on such” necessities” as a Ferrari, Beverly Hills residence and expensive jewelry.
The Commission has already barred American Tax Relief and its chief executive, Alexander Seung Hahn, from telemarketing or tax relief services. Too late for almost 20,000 families who trusted them to help in their time of need, however.
Sadly, any money received by the victims is likely to go to the IRS. Often in these cases people who at one time had a hope of resolving their collection issues just get deeper in debt by listening to the false promises of these fraudsters.
We often get people who come to us looking for help compromising their taxes. If they have already been to one of the many tax relief “serial advertisers,” they have no money to hire counsel by the time we see them.
For a trip down memory lane, check out some of the commercials of these companies:
Roni Deutch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vsPSvYijiPQ
American Tax Relief https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0F-JGBoJE4E
After watching these commercials, I wonder if some of these ads even worked. American Tax Relief saying they reduced a $3 million tax debt to under $3000?
The behavior of people who prey on folks who are struggling financially is reprehensible. Hopefully, the newest crop of serial advertisers will do a much better job. Better yet, we hope that people with tax problems turn to the many legitimate tax lawyers, accountants and enrolled agents who are ready to help.
Mahany & Ertl is a full service boutique law firm concentrating in taxes. We handle IRS offers and compromises worldwide. We also sue lawyers and accountants (accounting malpractice) in cases where the loss exceeds $500,000. Need information? Contact attorney Bethany Canfield at or by telephone at (414) 704-6731.
Mahany & Ertl – America’s Tax Lawyers