What are my rights if I was cheated by my tax preparer?

I had a bookkeeper do my taxes for my wife and I. We thought that he got us a decent refund. Well it turns out he sent $4000 of our return into a separate account that we didn’t know about. When I found out, I confronted him. Of course he denied it but was willing to make payments to make it right. Well, I excepted $700 so far but we don’t have anything on paper. What kind of action should I take from here?

Asked on July 3, 2014 under Business Law, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

1) In terms of compesation, if he pays everything he took, you will be made whole. You should, to make things easier for you, try to get him to sign a settlement agreement in which you will give up any claims against him arising out of this incident if he pays you however much is left, within a defined time frame--the reason you want to do this is that while you can simply sue him for stealing from you (which is what he did), a suit for theft or professional malpractice is more complicated than a lawsuit for violating a settlement agreement, which would be a simple breach of contract case.

1a) However, as stated, you have the right to sue him for theft and/or professional malpractice, so if you can't enter into an acceptable arrangment or he generally stops paying, you can file a lawsuit on that basis.

2) What he did would be a crime, if done deliberately (rather than through some kind of careless/oversight/error)--you could report this to the police. That will not necessarily help you get your money back, but may provide a sense of justice.

3) You could also report him to the accounting licensing board in your state.


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