LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Imagine if you found yourself in big trouble with the IRS because, on your tax preparer's advice, you claimed tax credits that turned out to be bogus. That's allegedly what happened to some customers at two Compro Tax offices.
It was tax year 2005 and James Royal owed federal taxes. So he was delighted when he says his tax preparer told him he could claim an energy credit and get a refund. Royal says his preparer, Ronald Fontenot of Compro Tax at 1821 Broad Street, said he'd need to bring him the check from the IRS once it arrived. "The check did arrive. It was $4500 or so like that. I brought the check to Compro Tax. They took the check and gave me the first year I think about $200 and the taxes were taken care of and the filing fee was taken care of."
Royal says this went on for a couple of years until 2008. Royal says, "I got a letter from the IRS saying I was delinquent in my taxes for 2005 and 2006." It turns out Compro Tax on Broad Street, of which Fontenot is CEO, is one of 32 individuals the Department of Justice is suing to bar them from promoting an alleged tax scam involving bogus income tax credits claimed for sham sales of methane from landfills. The government says Fontenot is a large sub-promoter who allegedly promoted the credit scheme to numerous Compro Tax stores in the Eastern and Southern United States. In Royal's case: "I went to Mr. Fontenot and he said I should work something out with the IRS to pay these fees for these energy credits. Then I said, 'No, no no.' Something doesn't sound right here. Why should I pay for money I didn't receive."
Another local tax preparer being sued by the government is Carlos Metoyer whose Compro Tax office is at 3603 Louisiana Avenue.
Attorney Ron Richard is filing a class action lawsuit on behalf of Royal and others who now find themselves victims of the alleged tax credit scam. "We're going to seek damages for, of course the aggravation, the inconvenience and the fear, the outright fear as you can imagine, that is palpable when an IRS agent walks in your home or your business and tells you you owe money."
Royal, who's a lab tech at a local industrial plant, wants those who may have victimized others held accountable. "Someone used me to get money that I didn't receive. I'm not going to let someone step on me and use other people because it's wrong."