How much power does my ex-accountant hold?
August 31, 2009 2:01 PM   Subscribe

Can my accountant legally call the IRS and have my refund held up because he says he was not paid for his work, and/or he says there is a dispute on the return based on problesm I have had the last two years on my return?

This is a continuation of my post from a few months back, (

I finally heard from my accountant, and he gave me my 2008 taxes for my family and business. I am due a refund in the neighborhood of $10,000.

To keep it simple, I have decided to hold off on paying him his fee 1) the last two years that he has done my returns, there have been errors on it, that it has taken two years to clear up. I have paid fines, interest, and penalty fee's to clear this stuff up. and 2) He dissappeared for 4 months , and (partly spiteful), I don't feel I should pay him so quickly after him refusing to contact me or finish up my tax return....I suspect he had a drug/alcohol problem.

So anyways, he gave me my taxes, on August 10th, and I mailed them in on the 11th. I understand it takes 6-8 weeks for processing and my return to be sent to me.

A week ago, he wrote and called me demanding payment or he would call the IRS and have my refund held up. I spoke with an IRS receptionist today (she wouldnt let me speak to an actual customer service rep), and told me that he cannot hold up my refund because he wasn't paid, but he 'may' be able to, if he claims there are errors on it...He did sign my return as a tax preparer.

So, does he have any grounds to actually stop my refund?
I'm close to hiring an attourney of my own, but figured I'd ask the mefi masses first.

If i can provide any other details that will help someone share a more educated response, please feel free to ask or email me....It is is in depth, Id be willing to consult on the phone as well.

When the dust is finally settled, I will never be using him again.

Thanks Mefites!
posted by TwilightKid to Law & Government (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This is a question for a lawyer to answer. Find one. Retain his services.
posted by dfriedman at 2:05 PM on August 31, 2009 [2 favorites]

I would tell him he'll get his check when you get your return. With his track record, you are well within your rights to wait to make sure everything is correct.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 2:08 PM on August 31, 2009 [1 favorite]

You really want to bring a lawyer into this. He could easily claim errors, then sit on it indefinitely. A tax lawyer will help you provide proper notification to the IRS that this is going on, to help you avoid penalties and such.

Also, this might be the time to have your taxes re-done by someone else, to make sure that what he submitted already or what he submits after "fixing" it (assuming he does this) isn't something that will get you into trouble.
posted by davejay at 2:32 PM on August 31, 2009

This lawyer says lawyer up.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:51 PM on August 31, 2009

Lawyer up! And ask your new lawyer who his accountant is, so you can drop this bozo next year.
posted by caveat at 3:11 PM on August 31, 2009

You really think it's worth hiring a lawyer just so you can delay paying the accountant? If there is still some outstanding issue with the accountant then sure, grab the nearest lawyer, but as it stands it sounds like (and you admit this) it's just out of spite.

Might it be easier (and cheaper?) just to pay the accountant what you owe, and then if you're still concerned have your new accountant check over your most recent return?
posted by kiltedtaco at 3:31 PM on August 31, 2009

nthing lawyering up…and why did you continue to use him if you were having problems with him for the previous two years?
posted by violetk at 4:05 PM on August 31, 2009

Ask for return of all of your records so you can seek another accountant's services. Tell him that you intend to report his error-prone services to the IRS, the Better Business Bureau, the Attorney General and whatever professional organization might govern tax preparers. Explain to him that his errors cost you X amount. Offer to come to a fair resolution of payment, possibly using the services of an arbitrator.

He might be able to withhold his work, i.e., the return, but not your data. It's probably worth it to pay him some part of what he thinks you owe just to be done with this. I've been an arbitrator and had an arbitrated divorce that worked out fairly.
posted by theora55 at 4:34 PM on August 31, 2009

Make sure he understands that if you don't get your refund he doesn't get paid. Simple as that.
posted by tylerfulltilt at 4:51 PM on August 31, 2009

This is a question for a lawyer to answer. Find one. Retain his services.

They also have these newfangled female ones, too.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 5:17 PM on August 31, 2009 [11 favorites]

This is a question for a lawyer to answer. Find one. Retain his services.

Yeah, right. A lawyer is going to jump at the chance to represent someone who is trying to avoid paying for professional services.

Just pay your damn accountant and be done with it.

Why would you, a self-respecting person, not pay your accountant for the work he has performed? You wouldn't go to McDonald's, buy a burger, and say, "I'll pay you for this after I eat it."

People deserve to be paid for their work. Period. Stop being a deadbeat.
posted by jayder at 5:50 PM on August 31, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I am going to look into contacting a lawyer tomorrow...

Jayder, I did not go into very explicit detail of my situation, so your 'advice' is based on your assumption of what I am going through. I am not looking to get out of paying him. Based on my past experience with the guy, I am setting myself for more problems down the road, if I pay him right now, when his recent history has shown his quality of work to have taken a severe nose dive.

I have used this guy for 8 years, and the problems only started with my 2007 return, so he did have some trust in this relationship built up, which is why I used him again after my 2007 adventure.

posted by TwilightKid at 6:12 PM on August 31, 2009

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