Erik Ketelaar, Wannabe GOP Bigwig, Under Fire from Clients of His Company Tio Sam Taxes
What kind of problem?
"They don't want to send people their refunds," he claimed before his PR guy, George Lin, got between us and announced that the interview was over.
Ketelaar then walked behind a projection screen. After Lin stomped off, I followed Ketelaar, who clearly was skittish.
He claimed he wasn't hiding from me.
"Look, my goal is to help people out," he said. "I didn't ask for any money up front from anybody, and that's the truth."
I told him that I wanted to hear his side in detail. I gave him my card, and he promised on a handshake to call me the next morning.
Which did not happen.
Nor did Ketelaar or anyone at Ketelaar Accounting return my subsequent phone calls or e-mails.
I contacted a local spokesman for the IRS, who would neither confirm nor deny that the IRS was investigating Ketelaar.
However, I was referred to sections of the IRS website that explain how the practice of a tax preparer's accepting a client's refunds -- either via check or direct deposit so that fees can be deducted -- might be considered "disreputable conduct."
One CPA I've spoken with says there could be a legitimate reason for such a practice, but refunds usually are to be directed to the taxpayer.
Tovar has had a couple of run-ins with employees of Ketelaar Accounting while trying to get her daughter-in-law's refund.
She showed me a copy of a contract the Ketelaar folks wanted her to sign, agreeing to pay a portion of money owed her family member.
She said she and other complainants were offered $500 checks from the Ketelaar people during one meeting, as an advance.
Before leaving the meeting, she called the bank the checks were drawn on. She was told there was not enough money in the account to cover all the checks in question.
"What, do they think I'm stupid?" she said of the meeting. "This guy Ketelaar claims to be a millionaire on Facebook, but [his company] couldn't cover more than $1,000?"