How about a Little Sex with That Tax Audit?

By Teresa Ambord

That's what one Oregon taxpayer said he was offered by an IRS auditor. But it wasn't exactly a request, according to forty-year-old Vincent Burroughs. The "offer" came with a threat of hefty IRS penalties if he said no. Still, he said, he resisted the agent's charms for a while, before giving in to her demands during an audit meeting at his home in Fall Creek, Oregon. Fifteen months later, he filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against her and IRS in a US District Court in Oregon.
 
Here's what Burroughs complaint alleges.
 
Without prior written notice, IRS agent Dora Abrahamson (age thirty-eight) called him on the phone. She told him he was about to be audited but said he was "lucky" because she knew who he was, which would presumably work in his favor. That's when the really odd stuff began, said Burroughs. She began to text him with flirtatious messages, including offers to massage him. Then she sent a photo of herself, scantily clad in underwear – not exactly IRS-approved business attire – and in a suggestive pose. 
 
The initial phone and text contact was in August 2011. Burroughs said he resisted her multiple advances until September 2011. That's when she arrived at his home for an arranged audit meeting. Only she wasn't dressed much like an IRS agent. Burroughs said she showed up dressed provocatively and proceeded to proposition him. They did engage in sex, but according to Burroughs, the sex only happened after she told him "she could be a bitch, or that she could be nice. . . . She said that she could impose no penalty, or a 40 percent penalty, and that if he would give her what she wanted, she would give him what he needed." His lawsuit doesn't indicate whether penalties were eventually assessed against him or not.
 
Fifteen months go by . . .
 
Not that the story isn't already bizarre enough, but also raising eyebrows is the lack of formal protest. Burroughs doesn't seem to have made any form of complaint to the IRS or law enforcement in spite of his claims to have suffered much over the incident. But all that changed when, seemingly out of nowhere, in January 2013 he filed suit in the US District of Oregon, Eugene Division (Burroughs v. Abrahamson et al (6:13-cv-00141-TC)). 
 
In his lawsuit, he says he suffered "anguish, humiliation, mental distress, depression, lost income, and loss of trust in governmental authority." At the time of the encounter with Abrahamson, he was in an "exclusive relationship with another woman," he said, and because of the demanding IRS agent, that relationship also suffered.
 
He calls Abrahamson's behavior "persistent sexual harassment" and says, among other things, that she was negligent in "permitting her carnal desires to overcome her judgment that it was inappropriate to pursue a sexual relationship with a taxpayer she was auditing." Her advances, the complaint alleged, "were an excessive intrusion on his person."
 
He's seeking unspecified punitive damages. 
 
When asked by reporters why he didn't take action sooner, he said he feared she would "cause substantial financial penalties to be imposed upon him."
 
Richard Panick, a spokesman for the IRS, told reporters he couldn't comment on any aspect of the case, including whether or not Abrahamson is still employed by the IRS. Abrahamson declined comment. 
 
Stay tuned. Much to the probable dismay of the IRS and Dora Abrahamson, this story isn't going away any too soon.
 

You may like these other stories...

Many senior US tax professionals believe that a streamlined audit process will be the top benefit resulting from the IRS Transfer Pricing Audit Roadmap, a new toolkit organized around a notional 24-month audit timeline,...
Tax accounting to be simplified for money-market fundsThe US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) voted 3-2 on Wednesday for sweeping changes to institutional money-market funds, Emily Chasan, senior editor of...
By Cathy Stopyra and Todd SimmensUnderpayment interest, refund interest, and penalties charged to businesses are just a few of the considerations the IRS calculates when determining taxation for a given company. Though...

Upcoming CPE Webinars

Jul 31
In this session Excel expert David Ringstrom helps beginners get up to speed in Microsoft Excel. However, even experienced Excel users will learn some new tricks, particularly when David discusses under-utilized aspects of Excel.
Aug 5
This webcast will focus on accounting and disclosure policies for various types of consolidations and business combinations.
Aug 20
In this session we'll review best practices for how to generate interest in your firm’s services.