In a scathing account which alleges, among other allegations, destruction of evidence and failure to comply with a Superior Court’s preliminary injunction, California’s Attorney General, Kamala D. Harris, is seeking jail time against tax attorney Roni L. Deutch. The Attorney General maintains the tax lawyer should be held in contempt and placed in jail for supposedly shredding documents in violation of a Court order.
Detailed in an application filed by Attorney General Harris with the Superior Court last Wednesday, tax attorney Deutch had reportedly been ordered to “take reasonable steps to preserve every document” that arguably may have had some bearing on the case filed against her by the Attorney General last August. Instead, argues the Attorney General, “the very next day after the [court issued the order], Deutch conducted a purge of law firm documents that resulted in the shredding of nearly 2,000 pounds of the firm’s documents, or about 200,000 pages.”
The tax lawyer also supposedly ignored a preliminary injunction which requires her to return all unearned fees to her clients within sixty (60) days. Further, according to Attorney General Harris, the beleaguered tax attorney also gave her brother, Scott Juceam, twelve thousand dollars ($12,000.00) to start his own tax resolution company operating out of one of the tax attorney’s offices.
The Attorney General is asking the Court to fine the tax lawyer $1,000 and imprison her for five (5) days for “each and every separate [act of] contempt.” If taken literally, each of the two hundred thousand (200,000) pages supposedly destroyed would count as a separate act of contempt (200,000 pages x 5 days = 1,000,000 days or 2,739+ years.) And let’s not forget the clients to whom the tax attorney was supposed to refund unearned fees. If Attorney General Harris has her way, the tax lawyer would also be held in contempt for each failure to return those unearned fees. Needless to say, even with good and work time off (cutting the jail time in ½) the Attorney General is literally asking the Court to imprison Ms. Deutch for life.
For a distrusting public, already wrestling with back taxes and/or unfiled returns, these types of allegations against tax lawyers only fuel anxiety and occasion more distrust thereby making it increasingly difficult for them to seek out help and resolve their tax problems. While the allegations against Ms. Deutch are disturbing and extremely serious, they are also extremely rare. Cases like Ms. Deutch’s should not take away from the fact that the vast majority of tax attorneys provide competent and ethical legal assistance to millions of American taxpayers in trouble with the IRS each year.
Accordingly, if you owe back taxes, have unfiled returns, and are the subject of an IRS wage garnishment, IRS levy and/or IRS lien a tax lawyer is probably still your best option for getting the help and advice you need to resolve your tax problems. So do your homework, check out any tax lawyers you are considering, and shop around for the right tax attorney to help you.
Segal, Cohen & Landis 9100 Wilshire Blvd. Ste. 601E Beverly Hills, CA 90212 (310) 285-3999