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Taxmasters; Aka Tmirs Enterprises; Aka Patrick Cox; Income Tax Service / Taxmasters of Houston: Buyer Beware!

1 900 Town & Country Ln. Suite 400Houston, TX, United States Review updated:
Contact information:
Phone: (800) 581-0456

I hired Taxmasters to help deal with a minor tax issue. During the initial consult, they told me one thing. After taking my money (it was A LARGE sum of money, many thousands of dollars), their story changed completely. When confronted about the changes, Taxmasters associates began to lie. The first obvious lie came a couple days after the initial phone consult. I found out later that I was lied to during my initial phone consultation as well.

After the first couple lies, I realized that I had been victimized by what is commonly known as the old "bait and switch", wherein you are told one thing to get you to part with your money, and then you are told something else once they have your money. I terminated the contract within days of the initial phone consult, which set into motion many weeks of ordeal, in which Taxmasters fabricated outrageous, defamatory lies about me, in attempts to keep my money, amongst other tactics.

During my ordeal, here are a few things I have noted:
- Taxmasters associates APPEAR to operate from a script; a process designed to ensure that, no matter what, Taxmasters prevails. Examples: Taxmasters might make every attempt to get your payment BEFORE giving you a contract for review. Next, they might only speak in general terms, avoiding specifics of your finances during the initial phone consult, and later might claim that you withheld information from them; information which they did not ask for. Next, Taxmasters appears to have an orchestrated "third-party review" process (which does not appear to me to be a REAL third-party, meaning a non-Taxmasters employee) to verify your INTENT to pay, which they then later use against you, should you attempt dispute the charges. There are many more indicators I could list, which appear to support the theory that Taxmasters associates operate in a scripted, coordinated, and/or orchestrated fashion.

- Taxmasters associates seem to prefer to do business via telephone, where there are NO RECORDS of what is said. Taxmasters might then attempt to use this AGAINST you, should you end up in a dispute. Shortly after I had terminated phone call access, Taxmasters became unresponsive to direct emails sent to them. Why? Because emails generate a paper-trail; evidence which could be used against Taxmasters in any dispute.

- Taxmasters contract contains many clauses which favor ONLY Taxmasters. One example, there is an "abuse" clause which allows Taxmasters to terminate the contract and keep the funds, should Taxmasters decide to utilize it. Taxmasters COULD claim that you were abusive in a phone call, which of course is subjective because the call is not recorded, and abuse could be quantified as just about ANYTHING, including things which may not have even transpired, since phone calls are not recorded; another good reason to cease telephone contact immediately and insist all communications be in writing.

- Demagoguery is truly the "last bastion of a scoundrel". People who resort to this type of rhetoric generally do so because they are on the wrong side on an argument. Taxmasters appears to utilize demagoguery, to distract from the REAL ISSUES at hand. If Taxmasters can create a "straw man", an argument about your character or some other such nonsense which has no basis in fact but is highly prejudicial, they can at best case hope to prejudice objective mediators and others who might take interest in a case, and in worst case, distract them. That is, after all, the purpose of demagoguery.

- Taxmasters, over a period of years, has developed quite a history, which explains itself and needs no characterization from me. Go the the BBB website (google "BBB"), and research Taxmasters of Houston. I suggest you review the RATING and rating justification in detail, currently listed as "unsatisfactory". In addition, review the "detailed view" of the Consumer Complaint History", which will show you statistics for the last 3 years. Pay particular attention to the last 12 months, and the differences between the last 12 months, and the 24 months that preceded them. Also, compare the BBB rating justification to the posts contained here on [redacted]dotcom. You might see striking similarities. Use all of this data in any dispute you might have with Taxmasters. More data can be found through a "google" search on Taxmasters, and the names of the prinicpals, Patrick Cox, Alex Clamon and Fred Hackett. An amusing side note, the Taxmasters website has a "D&B Listed" logo on it; an official looking bit of fluff. Why is this there? What does it have to do with Taxmasters representing clients to the IRS? With the quality of Taxmasters as a service business? Nothing. "Dun and Bradstreet" ratings are FINANCIAL ratings (like for investors), not quality of service ratings as issued by the BBB. Yet, it DOES look official on their website, doesn't it? D&B... BBB... see any similarities? I guess with 143 BBB complaints in the last 12 months at last count, it wouldn't pay to have a BBB link on the Taxmasters site, now would it? Taxmasters is not a BBB Accredited Business, according to the BBB website.


In the end, I prevailed. I had all of my funds returned to me (not by Taxmasters, who in their last communication still maintained a right to it).

Based on my own personal knowledge, from dealing with Taxmasters, I would not recommend Taxmasters to my worst enemy. If you are considering whether to hire Taxmasters, I suggest you give great weight to the BBB report, and to the reports of consumers here at [redacted]. Also, I suggest you contact the Harris County District Attorney's Office, and speak to someone in their Consumer Fraud division, to get more knowledge. Knowledge IS power.

If you already find yourself in a dispute with Taxmasters, while I cannot resolve your issue for you, here are a few friendly words (not to be taken as legal advice; consult an attorney for that):
- You might want to cut off ALL telephone communications with Taxmasters. Written communications forces honesty, and documents lies. If you wish to cut off telehone communications, do this in writing. Send copies of the notification via email, certified mail AND fax, to ensure delivery (save delivery confirmations on file). Insist that all future communications be in writing. This will force Taxmasters to take positions, and to make statements which YOU can then use against THEM.

- Start a journal. Document each and every event (no matter how insignificant it might seem at the time) related remotely to your dispute, by date and time. Your journal can be used as evidence. Use it faithfully.

- Open a file, and keep every scrap of paper you write or receive. Also, keep copies of whatever you find on the internet. Use all of this data as references in your dispute, and make copies to send to all the different agencies (your bank, the BBB, etc.). When you receive an email, letter or other document, annotate it with the date and time received before filing it. SAVE THE ENVELOPES! They have datestamps on them. Compare the datestamps on the envelopes you receive, to the letters inside of the envelopes, to see if letters have been pre-dated in efforts to make it appear as if they were written long ago. When you respond to communications, place a copy of your response, annotated with the date, time, and method(s) sent, into your file.

- Time is critical. Do not delay in filing your disputes. Delays can and probably will be portrayed as YOUR FAULT; evidence that you approved of the direction and work of Taxmasters. Once you have reviewed your options in detail, decide which direction to go, and go there full speed ahead.

- Be VERY CLEAR in your demands. Ambiguity will probably be used against you. If you wish Taxmasters to cease doing something, be specific and tell them to cease and desist.

- Power of Attorney MUST be revoked in writing, should you desire to limit Taxmasters ability to continue working on your case, in contravention of your stated demands to not work. If you have previously granted them Power of Attorney, and if you wish them to stop working on your case as a result of your dispute, send them a notice revoking their Power of Attorney effective immediately, and send it via email, registered mail and fax keeping confirmations from all on file (send ALL documents or communications to Taxmasters in this manner).

- File complaints with each and every agency that you can file with. Send them a full written statement, and copies of all of your collected documents on file, and reference these documents in your statement, if you are able to. Maybe write up one detailed statement with all the attachments, that you can send to each agency that you file a complaint with. Tell the whole story, from start to end. Be accurate. Be detailed. Be truthful. Be complete. Explain in detail how this has affected you personally. If you paid by credit card, file a complaint with your bank (dispute the charge). It is important to file with your bank QUICKLY. File complaints with the Harris County District Attorney and the Texas State Attorney General (contact information can be found online, and even some of the forms). File a BBB complaint online, or via phone if need be. Online is better. File a complaint at [redacted]dotcom, to help other consumers who might have comparable issues. Try the US Attonrey General's office as well, since Taxmasters IS conducting their business across state lines. Also, if you are doing business with Taxmasters through the US Mail, you can also file complaints with the US Postal Service Postmaster General.

- Be professional in ALL communications. Sarcasm is okay at times, and does serve to make points occasionally. Don't get angry however, and make statements which might hurt you later.

- Carbon-copy (cc:) all of your responses to Taxmasters to every agency that you have filed complaints with, by listing them next to "cc:" at the bottom of your email or letter. Let these people know that you are forwarding all of this to the appropriate agencies. Periodically or as need requires, send out the copies to the agencies.

- Don't give up the fight. SOME companies make their money off of quantity versus quality. The more people who get discouraged and quit, the more profit is realized. SOME businesses understand this, and take this into account in their business plan; they expect to lose a few accounts, and are willing to do so in order to win in the cases that people just give up fighting. If you give up, they immediately profit. In other words, SOME companies will do no work, yet keep the money paid. It is pure profit, since they do not have to pay labor or overhead to deal with your case.

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Comments

  • Mo
      21st of Jun, 2009
    0 Votes

    What a ripoff. Parick Cox, I hope you do a perp walk soon!

  • Fr
      24th of Jun, 2009
    0 Votes

    TAXMASTERS BBB RATING AS OF 24Jun09

    BBB Rating

    Based on BBB files, this business has a BBB Rating of F

    Reasons for this F rating include:


    337 complaints filed against business
    Failure to respond to 44 complaints filed against business
    60 complaints filed against business that were not resolved
    Overall complaint history with BBB
    This company has an unsatisfactory report for a pattern of complaint activity regarding refunds and service. Taxmasters has a very specific refund policy. Company officials have stated in replies to complaints that they do not issue refunds because the company provides immediate advice and information on how to address the client's tax issues.

    BBB complaints allege consumers are required to pay for the company's service before the company releases a copy of the contract and their policies for the consumer to review and sign. Once the consumer's account is charged they are then sent documents to review and are asked to sign the contract. According to the company, the $500 fee is for an IRS consultation. According to Taxmasters, the initial fee is not refunded unless company officials feel they "drop the ball". Consumers have stated that they were not advised that the fees are nonrefundable in the initial call to the company. As a general rule, the BBB recommends consumers ask any company they are doing business with about their refund, return, and/or exchange policy in advance of authorizing payment. The company has stated that their refund policy is clearly outlined on the documents that are faxed to the consumers.

    TAXMASTERS IS RATED AN "F" WITH THE BBB; THE ABSOLUTE LOWEST RATING POSSIBLE.

  • Ka
      21st of Jul, 2009
    0 Votes

    Everybody gets told something different. They seem to state their policy according to each unique situation.

    I was told by the Authorizations department that, It is law that anything done over the phone is nonrefundable. Tax Masters has a no refund policy. I told her that I am a consumer and consumers have rights. I did not receive anything for the money they charged me. Note: I canceled less then 24 hours after signing up. When the fax department called me to verify that they received my fax, I told them to tear it up I am canceling. The Quality Insurance Department says they have a signed contract. I said, no you don't. I told the fax department to rip it up when they received it. I then started to search on Tax Masters and found a lot of complaints about this company on various websites.

  • Fr
      31st of Jul, 2009
    0 Votes

    Hello Kamah.
    You are right. TaxMasters DOES tell people different things. Basically, they tell you whatever it takes to get you to part with your money. At least that is my experience. Don't believe a word of it, especially when they begin spouting "laws". From my experience, this is a tax preparation version of the movie "Boiler Room", with Vin Deisel. Give it a watch.
    If you do not receive services or goods, and you refuse those services or goods before delivery, you are entitled to get your money back. Follow my instructions in the long-winded write-up above, to file fraud dispute with your credit card company. That is how I got my money returned to me, in full. TaxMasters has agreed to the "Merchant Bank Review" process, which gives YOUR bank the right to review the transaction, and reverse the charges PERMANENTLY. You must do this IMMEDIATELY, otherwise, TaxMasters will use your delay against you, stating that the delay is proof you wanted them to work on your case.
    I wish you well in your dispute. It is alot of work, but worth it. The satisfaction of beating that fat b@$***d still gives me a smile.
    Be aware that, should you win, TaxMasters will probably attack your credit reports, and don't be surprised if you get contacted by the IRS soon afterward. This "coincidentally" happened to me.
    Good luck!

  • Fr
      18th of Aug, 2009
    0 Votes

    Hey everyone!
    Ben Scammed started a TaxMasters complaint resource located at:
    http://actionagainsttaxmasters.ning.com
    Go there and sign up!

  • Fr
      22nd of Aug, 2009
    0 Votes

    Below is/was TaxMasters refund policy, as stated by Alex Clamon (VP of TaxMasters). I used this quote in my dispute against TaxMasters. After I successfully disputed their claims using this quote, the page containing this quote was taken down. Apparently, according to numerous websites, TaxMasters has been actively pursuing owners of websites which might portray TaxMasters in a negative light. I have seen many sites come down in the last 6 months.

    Alex Clamon, posted on 29Dec2007 at 3:31pm:
    "My staff and I have responded to each and every contact we have received. I am not interested in airing a client or a prospects dirty laundry about their IRS problems on the internet. However if someone chooses tto lie in this venue I will publish the recorded portion of the phone conversation where they agreed to pay the fee. I did not receive emails mentioned here by "Chris".
    In response to Dale - I did get an email dated the 23rd. I did respond to it. Dale acknowledged that response and I have acted as promised, despite his slander. I did not get an email on the 13th. This refund request is slated for a review board meeting early next week. This has all been communicated separately. I would not normally make even the nature of any communications with a client public, but I did not choose this forum, and for his own reasons Dale has chosen not to be a client.
    I would like to elaborate on what exactly our refund policy is at this time. First it is spelled out clearly in our contract and that always prevails. We do observe a 3 day rescission rule. That means if someone decides to cancel for any reason within the first 3 days of hiring us, we issue a refund. It might not happen that day, but it will happen. No one requires this of us. It is of our choosing.
    Where we have already done the work, this would not be the case. This is the nature of our business, that our clients are in crisis, and sometimes the work has to proceed immediately. When you owe the IRS money, people with Badges and Guns are likely to become involved. In some cases, our clients are even being investigated for serious criminal matters. A small percentage of our customer base intends for us to do the work and to not pay us, or the IRS. We cannot tell who this client is upfront. This requires us to be paid prior to completing the work.
    In all cases we make absolutely sure someone intends to hire us including using a third party to verify the transaction. All that being said we still have a self imposed 3 day rescission. This is my commitment to being completely sure that no one takes advantage of the great trust that our client places in us.

    Best Regards,
    Alex Clamon, VP
    TaxMasters
    alex.clamon@txmstr.com "

  • Tx
      15th of Mar, 2010
    0 Votes

    Hi,

    If you've been a victim of TaxMasters, below is a good starting list of everyone you should send a letter to, detailing your experience. Signed and mailed letters are often still taken more seriously than an emailed or faxed one. You should also include any/all supporting documentation/evidence.

    This really is needed. The sooner these agencies receive more complaints about this company, the more they will investigate.

    1. Your state's Attorney General
    2. All of your state's Senators and Representatives (Federal and State)
    3. All of the following:

    U.S. Treasury Department
    ATTN: Special Agent Farwell
    1919 Smith St.
    Suite 2270
    Houston, TX 77002

    Texas State Board of Public Accountancy
    333 Guadalupe, Tower 3, Suite 900
    Austin, TX 78701-3900

    Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration
    Hotline
    P.O. Box 589
    Ben Franklin Station
    Washington, DC 20044-0589

    Office of the Attorney General of Texas
    PO Box 12548
    Austin, TX 78711-2548

    U.S. Department of Justice
    Office of Attorney General
    950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
    Washington, DC 20530

    Internal Revenue Service
    Office of Professional Responsibility
    SE: OPR, Room 7238/IR
    1111 Constitution Avenue NW
    Washington, DC 20224

    Better Business Bureau of Houston
    http://houston.bbb.org/

    Federal Trade Commission
    Consumer Response Center
    600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
    Washington, DC 20580

    Mayor Annise D. Parker
    City of Houston
    P.O. Box 1562
    Houston, TX 77251

  • Ly
      1st of Jun, 2010
    0 Votes

    Another victim. After my husband suffered a stroke in 2005 we were left with many unresolved tax issues. Being the trustworthy person i am, i contacted taxmasters, i thought if cnn advertises them how would i go wrong. I contacted them during which we discussed my tax issues. We came up with a "plan". I signed on. They were very professional at first...that is until they got my $8, 000. After that, nothing.
    I have been waiting since 2006 for them to return my call. They have copies of everything...even monthly bills. The last time i actually spoke to a human they couldn't or wouldn't give out any info. They didn't even know who was working on my case.
    I want my money back. I also blame CNN for advertising this company. I fully intend on filing charges against this company...and i also intend on finding a way to make them just as miserable as i have been for the past few years. How horrible to take advantage of people. I realize everyone has a story, but, here is mine. My husband as i mentioned has had a stroke and can no longer work as a general contractor. I had a auto accident back in 1984 and can't walk. We are literally broke and we want our money

  • Tx
      4th of Jun, 2010
    0 Votes

    Well it finally happened -- government action against TaxMasters:

    http://www.oag.state.tx.us/oagnews/release.php?print=1&id=3328

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    May 13, 2010
    www.texasattorneygeneral.gov CONTACT
    Press Office at
    (512) 463-2050

    Houston-based "Tax Resolution" Firm Charged With Unlawful Conduct, Misleading Customers

    Texas Attorney General files enforcement action against TaxMasters, Inc.; cites nearly 1, 000 complaints about defendants’ conduct and business practices


    HOUSTON – Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott today charged Houston-based TaxMasters, Inc., and its chief executive officer, Patrick Cox, with multiple violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act and Texas Debt Collection Act.

    According to the state’s enforcement action, the defendants unlawfully misled customers about their service contract terms, failed to disclose its no-refunds policy, and falsely claimed that the firm’s employees would immediately begin work on a case – despite the fact that TaxMasters did not actually start to work on a case until its customers paid in full for services, even if that delayed response meant taxpayers missed significant IRS deadlines.

    “In the midst of a national economic downturn, TaxMasters used a nationwide marketing campaign to offer services for distressed taxpayers who needed help dealing with the IRS, ” Attorney General Abbott said. “A state investigation and nearly 1, 000 customer complaints indicate that the defendants routinely misled customers about the nature of their tax resolution service agreements – and worse, attempted to enforce those improper agreements through unlawful debt collection tactics. The state’s enforcement action seeks to prohibit the defendants from continuing to violate the law and seeks restitution for the financially struggling taxpayers who were harmed by the defendants’ unlawful conduct.”

    The defendants advertise a tax resolution service for federal taxpayers who have received notice from the IRS of an audit, garnishment, lien, levy or tax deficiency. Citing a self-styled “national advertising campaign” and high-profile “endorsements, ” TaxMasters purports to have “one of the most effective tax relief teams in the tax representation business.” However, a state investigation – and nearly 1, 000 complaints submitted to the Office of the Attorney General and the Better Business Bureau of Houston – indicate that the defendants have unlawfully misled their customers and failed to disclose material facts about their service agreements.

    TaxMasters’ advertisements encourage taxpayers to call its toll-free number for a “free consultation” with a “tax consultant.” Court documents filed by the state indicate that callers are not connected to an employee qualified to give tax advice, but rather with a TaxMasters salesperson who recommends a “solution” for between $1, 500 and $9, 000 or more.

    According to court documents, many callers were offered an installment plan so that they could pay the defendants’ fee over a specified period of time. However, callers who asked to see written terms and conditions prior to making a payment were informed that a credit card or bank account number is necessary to generate a written TaxMasters service contract. As a result, TaxMasters customers were unaware – and the defendants’ personnel did not have a practice of disclosing – multiple aspects of the TaxMasters service agreement that were harmful to taxpayers.

    For example, the defendants did not disclose that all customer payments submitted to TaxMasters are non-refundable. Because customers were not provided written contracts and sales personnel did not reveal the no-refunds policy, customers did not know that they would not be able to recover any installment payments they submitted to TaxMasters – even if they ultimately decide to cancel before TaxMasters actually did any work on their tax case.

    The state’s enforcement action also cites TaxMasters for failing to reveal that it would not begin work on a case until all installment payments had been remitted and the entire fee was paid. Multiple complaints indicate that customers entered into an installment agreement with the understanding that TaxMasters would immediately begin work on their case – only to discover later that no action was taken. Customers often learned that there was a problem when they received a notice from the IRS indicating that an important deadline had been missed or that additional fees and penalties had accrued.

    Court documents filed by the state also indicate that the defendants failed to disclose TaxMasters’ requirement that customers pay the entire service fee – even if they opt to cancel their contract. Because customers are not provided a written contract, they were not properly informed that agreeing to make a single payment over the telephone obligated them to pay the entire fee quoted by sales personnel. Further, not only did TaxMasters attempt to obligate its customers to a fee in the absence of a signed contract, the defendants used unlawful debt collection tactics to enforce the unauthorized obligation.

    According to the state’s enforcement action, the defendants not only failed to disclose material terms and conditions governing its services, but also failed to properly provide the “tax resolution” services that were advertised. Customer complaints obtained by the Attorney General’s Office cite TaxMasters for failing to contact and consult with the IRS on the client’s behalf; failing to appear on the client’s behalf at an IRS audit or hearing; failing to postpone or stop a wage or bank account garnishment; and failing to stop a levy or lien against a client’s property.

    When customers who were unhappy with the defendants’ services sought refunds, TaxMasters refused to return the customers’ money. Court documents indicate TaxMasters not only refused to honor refund requests, it also pursued debt collection efforts against clients who cancelled their contracts. The state’s enforcement action charges TaxMasters with unlawfully threatening to pursue customers in Harris County courts, even if those customers did not reside in the county. Under Texas law, entities seeking to enforce a consumer contract can only do so in a county where the agreement was executed or where the consumer resides.

    The state's enforcement action is seeking restitution for each TaxMasters customer who was financially harmed by the defendants’ unlawful conduct. In addition, the state is seeking civil penalties of up to $20, 000 for each violation of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

  • Tx
      8th of Jul, 2010
    0 Votes

    Two federal lawsuits have been filed against TaxMasters and Patrick Cox personally:

    Wells et al v. TaxMasters, Inc et al, filed 7/2/2010 regarding Fair Labor Standards

    Antkowiak v. Taxmasters et al, filed 7/7/2010 regarding Fair Debt Collection

  • Tx
      28th of Oct, 2010
    0 Votes

    there are now 4 federal lawsuits against TaxMasters, for varied reasons:

    8 Taxmasters, Inc. (dft) txsdce 4:2010-cv-02373 710 07/02/2010
    9 Taxmasters (dft) txsdce 4:2010-cv-02373 710 07/02/2010
    10 TAXMASTERS, INC. (dft) paedce 2:2010-cv-03331 480 07/07/2010
    11 TAXMASTERS (dft) paedce 2:2010-cv-03331 480 07/07/2010
    14 TaxMasters Inc. (cnflck) txsdce 4:2010-cv-03055 710 08/25/2010
    15 Taxmasters, Inc. (dft) txsdce 4:2010-cv-03055 710 08/25/2010
    16 Taxmasters (dft) txsdce 4:2010-cv-03055 710 08/25/2010
    17 Taxmasters, Inc. (dft) txsdce 4:2010-cv-03330 190 09/16/2010

  • Tx
      18th of Mar, 2011
    0 Votes

    The PA class action suit has made it around the arbitration clause in the contract. TaxMasters filed a motion to compel arbitration, which was denied on 3/17/11.

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