Fighting For You: Marshall County Man Wants Help Getting $88K Tax Mistake Cleared

North Alabama taxpayers often write WHNT NEWS 19 asking about their refund. The state is known to get backed up from time to time when it comes to returning taxpayer’s money. We have a different story to talk about now. The state is asking one Marshall County man to pay them, but he’s refusing. The man got a letter from Alabama’s Department of Revenue asking for more than $88,893.02.

Keith Britton says he doesn’t owe that much and has tried getting the state to remove the debt from his record. He’s counting on WHNT NEWS 19’s Venton Blandin to help resolve that matter.

WHNT NEWS 19’s Venton Blandin created a case folder for Britton while working on his story. The folder holds Britton’s tax documents, copies of emails and information gathered from the IRS and Alabama Department of Revenue. The copies of Britton’s tax forms show a mistake. Britton’s tax preparer’s office admits to making the mistake, but Britton is still not happy.

Britton is a personal trainer. He makes about $40,000 a year. He has a letter from Alabama’s Department of Revenue demanding he pays more $88,893.02 in taxes.

“I would not mind paying $88,893.02 in taxes if only I made over a million dollars, but I did not quite make a million dollars last year,” said Britton.

Boaz Tax Service did Britton’s taxes in February. Keith Cahela owns Boaz Tax Service.

“I just got this yesterday, voted the best accounting firm. We’ve done it three years in a row. We were voted best tax service three years in a row,” said Cahela.

Cahela admits even the best can make a mistake.

“The taxes today are all generated on a computer. There are fewer mistakes than it used to be because the programs we have really check all the software, but it doesn’t check numbers,” added Cahela.

Cahela told WHNT NEWS 19 one of his tax preparers made a mistake with Britton’s taxes. Line 16 on Britton’s tax form says he made $1,755,185 last year.

Cahela says that’s the mistake. Britton confessed he did not notice the error before leaving the tax preparer’s office, but he did when he got a bill three weeks later.

“It was a total shock. I thought it was a mistake. I thought at first someone had stolen my identity. I thought someone had erroneously used my ID to file taxes,” said Britton.

Cahela has apologized to Britton, but says the problem could have been avoided if Britton had not been in a rush.

“He had already come to my desk, which I had a new secretary to raise cane 2-3 times, saying he had a 9:15 appointment. It was 9:20, just five minutes,” added Cahela.

Cahela reviewed Britton’s tax documents, crunched the numbers and told him this time he only owed $635.

“I went ahead and wrote a check right then. I thought it was over and done with. He even said he would put it in the mail for me,” added Britton.

Britton says things were not over. He got another letter from the state showing $635 was deducted from the first bill and a penalty of more than $1,700 was added.

The personal trainer tried contacting the company again.

“I have left them no less than eight message on their phone. I have left notes on their door asking to please call me as soon as possible. I have received no response,” added Britton.

The company’s voicemail tells customers the office is only open on Wednesdays during non-tax seasons. Cahela says office staff was gone a little longer because of vacation, but someone did try calling Britton immediately.

“The first time thing he told me was you need to talk to WHNT NEWS 19 and my lawyer. He would not even talk,” added Cahela.

Cahela told WHNT NEWS 19 his office has tried everything they can to help Britton. The business owner says Britton knows he must fill out an amended tax form to clear up the mistake in the state’s computers. Cahela says the problem will go away once the paper is received by the state.

Britton told WHNT NEWS 19 he has filled out the paperwork and sent it to the state.