Couple claims tax preparers misled them about reductions

Kelly Holleran Jan. 14, 2009, 3:00am

A Jefferson County couple has filed suit against a Beaumont woman and three tax organizations, alleging the organizations misled the couple into believing they could receive a tax break.

Jimmy and Nicola Bertrand sought tax preparation services and legal tax-reducing investments in early 2007 from Denise White, National Tax Inc., Compro Tax Inc. and Compro Tax-North in regards to their 2006 tax return, according to the complaint filed Jan. 5 in Jefferson County District Court.

At least one of the companies sold them an alleged partial ownership in a tax shelter scheme that the companies represented as a lawful method to reduce the Bertrands' taxes, the suit states.

"Upon notification by the Internal Revenue Service that the tax reduction was being disallowed, plaintiffs were informed by one or more of the defendants that a law firm had been hired by defendants on behalf of plaintiffs to appeal and challenge the Internal Revenue Service decision to disallow the tax deductions but plaintiffs never had any contact from any such lawyers and received no notice of abatement, delay or reduction of the assessment of taxes, interest and potential penalties by the Internal Revenue Service," the suit states.

Because of the incident, the Bertrands claim their damages include $5,493 in back taxes, lost time of $2,500, about $900 in interest, a loss of investment of $4,402 and $165 in tax preparation.

White, National Tax, Compro Tax and Compro Tax-North violated the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Act by engaging in false, misleading or deceptive acts or practices, the Bertrands allege.

The companies engaged in the deceptive practices by passing off goods or services as those of another, by causing confusion or misunderstanding about the source, sponsorship, approval or certification of goods or services and by causing confusion or misunderstanding about affiliation, according to the complaint.

The Bertrands allege the companies misled them by representing their services had approval, characteristics, uses, benefits or quantities they did not possess, by representing that their goods or services were of a particular standard, quality or grade, by representing that an agreement confers rights it does not and by failing to disclose information about goods or services that was not known at the time of the transaction.

The companies and White breached their contract by failing to properly inform and perform and remedy defects in their performance to properly deliver the goods and services the Bertrands contracted, according to the complaint.

In the two-count suit, the Bertrands are seeking the court order the companies and White to immediately refund all payments made by the Bertrands so the Bertrands can use that money to mitigate their damages, a rescission of any terms of agreements between the parties that might limit the Bertrands' rights of recovery, an appointment of a receiver if judgment against the companies and White is not satisfied within 30 days of entry and a revocation of the companies' and White's licenses to do business if the judgment is not satisfied within three months of entry.

They are also seeking unspecified actual and exemplary damages, pre- and post-judgment interest, attorney's fees, court costs and other relief to which they may be entitled.

Kenneth W. Lewis of Bush Lewis in Beaumont and Thomas A. Peterson of Peterson, Petit and Peterson in Beaumont will be representing them.

The case has been assigned to Judge Gary Sanderson, 60th District Court.

Case No. B182-963

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