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SACRAMENTO – California's attorney general Jerry Brown today announced a $34 million lawsuit against the founder of Roni Deutch Tax Center, Roni Lynn Deutch. Mr. Brown contends that the tax centers aggressively deal with customers, allegedly promising a success rate of 99 percent in reducing IRS debt, while only being able to reduce the tax obligations of ten percent of customers.
"Tax Lady Roni Deutch is engaged in a heartless scheme that swindled people with tax problems," Brown said. "She promises to significantly reduce their IRS tax debts, but instead preys on their vulnerability, taking large up-front payments but providing little or no help in lowering their tax bills."
Brown, who is currently running for governor of California, seeks to force Deutch to pay a restitution of at least $33.9 million plus civil penalties.
Scores of consumer complaints against the firm can be seen on sites like PissedConsumer.com and ripoffreport.com.
The firm settled with the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs in 2006 for $300k including $200k in restitution to consumers and $100k in fines.
Deutch's tax firm has been in business since 2006 and franchising since 2007. In attempting to attract franchisees, the firm wrote in the International Franchise Association's Franchise Opportunities Guide of 2008 that it is the largest tax resolution law firm in the United States. "You'll get instant name recognition from Roni Deutch's multimillion dollar national TV campaign, and we can deliver the best territories that our competitors sold out on years ago."
The attorney general's office says that Deutch spends $3 million a year on advertising to get the business of those in trouble with the IRS. Much of the advertising can be seen on late-night cable TV. She has been seen offering tax advice on NBC's Today Show, CNN and CNBC.
The North Highlands, California-based company seeks franchise buyers, saying in the IFA's Franchise Opportunities Guide, "No experience necessary. We will not only teach you how to run a tax center but how to prepare tax returns using our easy intuitive software."
The firm declared in the IFA guidebook that it had 20 franchised units and one company-owned unit.
Brown says thousands of consumers in California and around the country have fallen victim to Deutch's unlawful scam, losing millions of dollars that could have been used to pay their IRS tax liabilities. The lawsuit charges that Deutch operates a deceptive tax resolution scheme that employs "a bevy of false promises and misrepresentations."
Disclosure: Roni Deutch Tax Service is a past advertiser of franchise opportunities on Blue MauMau. This journal does not screen for the franchise worthiness or claims of its advertisements.