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Attorney Roni Deutch, a daytime TV mainstay known as the “Tax Lady,” runs incessant ads extolling her ability to get anyone out of a jam with the IRS.
Well, the "Tax Lady" may well be headed to jail.
California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris has asked a judge to lock up the Tax Lady after accusing Deutch of refusing to refund clients as required by court order and for allegedly destroying thousands of documents sought in a lawsuit accusing her of scamming thousands of consumers, Reuters reports.
Harris’ office asked a California court to hold Deutch in contempt of court. In response to the allegations, her assets were frozen and a trial was set for July.
The Tax Lady is being charged with defrauding customers by demanding large upfront fees to help people with huge tax debts and then not making good on her advertised promises.
Deutch was accused in August of running a massive scam that preyed on people desperate for help with their tax problems, Reuters reports. The state said Deutch would collect thousands of dollars in up-front payments from consumers who owed the IRS and then provided virtually no assistance.
“Deutch showed herself to be a predator for profit, preying on innocent, hard-working people who were simply hoping to settle their accounts with the IRS,” Harris said in a statement. “By defrauding these victims, and then pleading poverty, she created a real danger that her clients will never receive their advance fees back.”
Harris’ office said Deutch has systematically destroyed documents for months and may have shredded up to 2.7 million pages of records.
The Attorney General said Deutch had been spending $3 million a year on advertising, mainly late at night on cable TV and that only one in 10 clients received any benefit from working with her firm.
The state also said Deutch was supposed to pay $435,000 in refunds by January, but instead released the money to other creditors, including family and friends, a NASCAR racing team and a casino.
Deutch still bills her firm as the largest tax resolution firm in the country and is promoting a book she wrote. She hasn’t commented on the accusations.