Dozens of Blackshear residents were all set to face tax deadline Monday only to find their tax preparer’s office was locked up, no answer on the phone and no one to be found.
L & M Tax Preparation, with an office on Main Street, was locked up tight, reportedly after assuring a number of area residents their tax returns would be ready for filing Monday. Leesa Mattox is said to be the operator.
“Our phone has rung off the hook today,” said Blackshear Police Chief Chris Wright Monday. “People have been lined up all day at that office, but no one has been there.”
Mattox sent a message to the Times Tuesday morning, responding to community concerns about the closure of her office.
“A notice was posted on the door by me to inform that the office would be closed to the public due to being overbooked and couldn’t take any more clients and that we would be working client files that we had and calling them in for appointments to close out the tax season. It also included my cell phone number and apologies for inconvenience. We were working on our clients’ files all day and I was in contact personally with the clients who had files being worked on. Any complaints about my office closing was simply due to last minute filers that I couldn’t take in because we wouldn’t be able to get to them,” Mattox said.
BPD has had an open investigation into Mattox’s operation for several weeks, following complaints, but investigators thought the matter was resolved last month.
“This has been an ongoing thing … thought the problem was fixed (last month),” Wright says.
Then complaints started pouring in Monday, Tax Day.
Reports from filers this week were consistent, Wright says.
Customers dropped off their returns in January or February and were unable to confirm if their taxes had been filed, and could not reach Mattox to retrieve their documents after numerous attempts to contact L & M. In a final attempt to get their documents, many of them lined up outside the office Monday.
BPD has taken at least 40 reports from individuals who say they dropped off their tax documents to L & M. None of those were from last minute filers, Wright adds.
The investigation into the matter is ongoing, but Wright says it’s too early to know if criminal charges would be brought against Mattox. Most filers don’t pay their tax professional until after the return has been filed.
BPD has coordinated their investigation with the Internal Revenue Service and advises locals contact the Taxpayer Assistance Office in Jacksonville or Savannah for more information regarding the status of their tax return.
L & M Tax Preparation has reportedly been in business on Main Street for three years. Wright is considering a petition to the city council to revoke the company’s business license.
Sheriff Ramsey Bennett said his office has received complaints about Mattox not filing tax returns for customers in a timely manner.
“We received several calls about it last week,” Bennett said.
Mattox insists her problems are due to a former employee who has spread malicious rumors about her and her business.
The sheriff noted Mattox is known to law enforcement.
“She has been arrested on at least two occasions on drug charges,” he said. “The most recent arrest was in January.”
A January 10, 2019 booking report shows Mattox was charged with possession of methamphetamine and possession of drug related objects.