An individual cold-called my mobile number from a Colorado (720) number to offer tax abatement services from Union Tax Consulting. He then transferred me to an analyst named Kyle Paterson. My number is on the do-not-call registry, and I had an initial impression of a boiler-room operation, but I spoke with the analyst.
Kyle asked some questions about the recent tax lien filed against me by the IRS and then said that I "definitely qualify" for the Penalty Abatement Program, wherein his company can set up a very modest payment plan and eliminate most of the penalties and interest which have made my total balance much larger than the original principal. He said his firm typically reduces its clients' tax liabilities by 40-60 percent. Since my current cash flow is very slim, he said I could pay only $1,000 of the $3,000 fee up front. Too good to be true?
My own accountant advised me to be very suspicious of Union's claims, saying that only the IRS can determine whether I qualify for any program, and that the IRS is highly unlikely to abate interest, thought they may abate some penalties under certain circumstances.
The company's web site, www.uniontaxconsulting.com, goes to great lengths to establish its legitimacy, but I immediately noticed that despite the photos of professional-looking people, not one person is identified by name on the web site. The site boasts about the company's Better Business Bureau rating, but it turns out they've been accredited only since April 29, 2011.
A search of the Colorado Secretary of State's web site shows that Union Tax Consulting has existed only since 2006 after changing its name from that of a delinquent company. Union's affiliated companies have a history of delinquent filings and name changes. What kind of professional firm does such a poor job of filing its reports on time? And why do they need to change their names every few years?
The name "Mire MacKenzy" appears on many of these filings, and an internet search of that name brings up several reports of alleged fraud and scams, and even aliases such as "Don Mire MacKenzy" and "Mike MacKenzy", who reportedly also owns a restaurant in Florida. An internet search of Kyle Paterson produces no signs of existence such as a LinkedIn profile, which is surprising from a professional in a tax or law firm.
An internet search of tax relief scams shows that the typical scenario involves a client paying money up front and the tax firm failing to deliver results, saying that the IRS had declared the client ineligible. In many cases I saw that the firm stopped returning a client's calls, and in some cases a client was told that his contact at the firm had been pulled off of his case or had even left the firm.
Overall I am very suspicious of this firm - even more so after reading the other report about Union on this site. Union may in fact be legitimate, but due to the aforementioned red flags, I advise anyone considering doing business with this firm to do extensive research before proceeding.