Tax franchises vs. individual tax preparer

To The Editor:

It seems to me that a single individual should be able to compete against a large franchise owner without the worry of a lawsuit. A few years ago this individual took a course which was paid for by themselves -- however, went to work for the franchise instead of going out on her own. This took place for about three years and she ended up managing a new office that was opened later. After no contact from the franchise owner and because the biggest share of this business is seasonal applied for unemployment and qualified. After that happened the franchise owner opened a lawsuit against her stating that she could not prepare taxes on her own while employed by the franchise owner and for two years following and was negligent in her contract with the franchise owner. Most all other tax preparers that still work for this franchise owner continue to prepare taxes on their own -- yet she was singled out.

Based on the wrong advice of a local attorney she gave a list of names of clients she had prepared tax returns for (most of which were her family members). She agreed not to prepare tax returns for a two-year period and the two-year period went by and because business slowed at the franchise owner's place of business a notice to appear in court was served by a local sheriff with no previous warning. Unfortunately, because of the wrong legal advice previously there was no backtracking and a fee of $1,000 was paid to the franchise owner and another two-year period not to prepare tax returns was placed on the individual. The suit was for $15,000 and because the individual had no assets to speak of this was unrealistic.

It seems to me that an individual should be able to compete with bigger corporations to make a living. This individual lived in a 1973 mobile home on a rented lot and was married with natural children and has recently adopted a special needs five-year-old boy. She was just trying to raise a family.

Virginia M. Locke

Bath, N.H.

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