Accounting & Tax Preparation

Negligent accounting practiced by Sheri Merkling

It was my first year in business.  I was a self proclaimed newby when it came to taxes, I wanted and needed a professionals advise and guidance.  I was referred to Sheri Merkling at Dollars & Sense Accounting by my insurance broker, with whom she shared an office at the time.  I called her office number and said,  “I need my taxes done, is Sheri still taking clients?” the man on the other end of the phone said yes, took my information, and told me she would call me.  Our first meeting was not until a few weeks later.

After meeting with her, I made my needs perfectly clear, I wanted my taxes done.  I had a bookkeeper and by data was on quickbooks. I informed Sheri Merkling that I had no experience in business tax preparation and hired her to make sure things were filed correctly.  I was charged $300.00 to file an extention. I now know that accountants do this service for free if they are preparing your taxes, (or the fee is minimal, around $20.00). Time past and I heard from her when she requested more information or money. I remember sitting and waiting in an empty office for nearly thirty minutes, she was often late to our appointments.

At the six month mark of the project I started wondering if this was the norm, again I never did this before and since I knew I had until October 15th, I felt I had time.  October came and I finally heard from her, she told me my taxes were done and we set up a time to meet and sign the documents. I drove the forty five minutes to her office with my two-year old in tow. I sat and waited again for her to show up thirty minutes late and tell me that she did not have the documents with her. I took it in stride, being the patient and understanding person that I am, but I was loosing my patience and left the appointment feeling taken advantage of.  A few more weeks later, another phone call from Sheri Merkling requesting more information.  Strange that she needs more information for taxes that are already complete!  I sent the request two days later.

It is now November and I call Dollars & Sense Accounting concerned that my taxes are now late.  I am told not to worry they are almost done.  I have paid Sheri Merkling $2,800.00 to date and have nothing to show for my investment but late taxes.  Sheri Merkling stopped returning my phone calls until I recieved a message from her that she had been sick and was not able to take phone calls anymore, it hurt her head to talk. She requested communicating via E-mail only.  I suppose it is easier to ignore an E-mail.  December came with a nice christmas gift from her, no my taxes were not released from their captivity, Sheri Merkling wanted another $2,500.00 and she wanted me to resend the information I sent her way back in October. Yes, you heard that right.  Let me recap, I have paid $2,800.00, my taxes are a couple of months late and still not done (even though they were done in October), and now Sheri Merkling from Dollars & Sense Accounting wants more money, that would be $5,300.00 so far for delinquent taxes.

After finally threatening her with legal action, contacting the Better Business Bureau, The Office of the Minnesota Attorney General and The Minnesota Board of Accountancy she returned my call sometime in January, and demanded that I pay the “balance”.  I insisted my documents be returned to me, we set up a day to meet, when I arrived to her office it was empty, I guess that explains why she did not have time to do my project she was relocating to a better office, I guess you’ve got to have priorities . The BBB tried to help act as a mediator in this situation but she failed to respond, resulting in her receiving an F rating.  The Minnesota Board of Accountancy has been helpful in lending an ear and listening to my complaints.  She will have to go in front of the board and explain herself for the second time (log on to the Board of Accountancy website under complaints to see if your accountant is listed).  The only recourse I had, where she could not ignore me, was to take her to court and sue her for a refund. In court she told the judge it was my fault my taxes did not get done, I failed to provide her with information and oddly enough she stated that she does not even do taxes. News to me!

Dispite her dishonesty I won a judgment against her in April and have been spending the last five months trying to collect. I believe that she saw me as a naive girl who paid her bills and asked no questions. I believe that my taxes were done in October like she originally stated. I believe she tried to string me along a little longer to collect a few more thousand dollars from me. I came close to being swindled but saw her for what she was soon enough not to pay her anymore money. I learned a lot from this experience and I hope that no one has to feel the anxiety and helplessness I felt when I was being ignored by someone I trusted with very personal documents and my hard earned money!

I will be going back to court for a third time to contest her claim of exemption on her bank accounts that I am garnishing. In my opinion, Sheri Merkling has acted like a selfish child and not a mature business owner, her greed has compeled her to make poor decisions and her ignorance has kept her from rectifying the situation, it has only served to aggravate it. I hope this article helps inform and maybe save someone from having to go through the same horrible experience that I did.  Remember, get it in writing, insist on a contract, so if you have to go to court chances are, the judge will rule in your favor!