5 On Your Side

Back taxes led to more problems for Cary man

Posted April 30, 2008 4:51 p.m. EDT
Updated April 30, 2008 8:54 p.m. EDT

— A Cary man, who hired a local company to negotiate a settlement for him with the Internal Revenue Service, ended up taking that company to court for services not rendered.

Jeff Crawford received a letter from Suzanne Henderson, owner of Tax Aid USA. The company, which also goes by the name Tax Aid America, targets delinquent tax payers and offers to “settle your tax problems.”

The company’s advertisements promise to "settle tax debts," "set up payment plans" and "stop wage garnishments."

Crawford owed back taxes from 2005.

“I didn’t really know what to do,” Crawford said.

Crawford said he met with Henderson last spring for about 15 minutes at her Willow Springs home office. He said he paid her $500 to help negotiate a settlement with the IRS.

“If she could get some of the amount knocked down or the penalties or anything, that would have been great,” he said.

Henderson told him to start saving money to pay the IRS.

“I was feeling a lot better about it because I've never really wanted to get in trouble with the IRS or nothing because they're nobody to play with,” Crawford said.

Crawford expected Henderson to start work on his case in July. But he said she didn't return his calls and messages.

In September, Crawford said he finally spoke to her briefly.

“I just told her what was going on and I'd like to get my money back for services not rendered and she said she would check into it and just never called me back,” Crawford said.

So Crawford set up his own tax payment plan and took Henderson to small claims court in March. Henderson didn’t show up, and Crawford won the case.
When Henderson didn't pay the judgment, Crawford contacted 5 on Your Side.

Henderson told 5 on Your Side that the $500 was a "consulting fee" for the "four hours" they spent "going over his paperwork." She said additional services would cost more.

Crawford said he just wants his $500 back.

“I’m trying to get stuff resolved so I can move on and get on with my life,” Crawford said.

Five on Your Side has three complaints against the tax aid company. The Better Business Bureau has six complaints against them.

Now, Henderson said she'll pay Crawford the $500, and another 5 on Your Side complainant $250 by the end of May.

A potential problem was the lack of paperwork stating what services Henderson was supposed to provide. It is recommended that before money is paid, consumers have the details in writing.