PHOENIX - A Valley couple says their roof is covered with solar panels that they can’t use.
David and Marcy Edwards say the panels were installed in 2014, but that they never actually signed up for them.
“It surprised me because I had just come in from off the road in my truck, and there were three or four guys on my roof,” he says. “I’m thinking maybe Marcy went through APS or one of these people that are knocking on your doors constantly saying ‘oh you need to go solar.’”
Wife Marcy says she didn’t sign up for the panels, but few weeks before the panels were installed, her tax preparer asked if they would be interested in getting solar.
“I said yeah we'd be interested in doing that and then I never heard anything from anybody,” she says.
With no agreement made, and no contract signed, they moved on. Then one day without warning or a contract, the panels appeared and they say they had no idea who they belonged to.
“I was kind of waiting on someone to come by the house and say well here's your bill or let me know we're the company that put this on your house or something,” he says.
He says that wouldn’t happen for another year and a half.
“I have a note that was put on my door by a gentleman and he said Mr. Edwards we've been trying to get ahold of you so you can get this solar turned on for you," he says.
David says the company, Clean Energy Systems, wanted him to sign a lease for the panels. He refused, asking for the panels to be taken down and his roof repaired. He says he went back and forth with the company without a resolution.
The couple found that the solar company had a relationship with their tax preparer, and according to the IRS, so did they.
David says in February 2016, “the IRS provided us information that said we were in a partnership with the company— with Clean Energy Systems. We’re not in a partnership and we never signed anything.”
He says they got a notice that the company was being audited for 2013 tax year.
But that wasn’t the only surprising news. They too received a letter saying they were personally being audited, for a $250,000 loss from the partnership.
“I think I told him, 'You’ve got to be kidding $250,000?' He wasn’t kidding,” Marcy says.
The couple says it went back to the place where their taxes were prepared, Heritage Tax Services in Sun City.
“They would not respond, they would not answer his calls, they wouldn’t answer his messages so he finally went there and got a copy of the return from them,” Marcy says.
They say the return they got from the preparer showed a loss of $71,000 not $250,000 that was on the documents that the IRS provided. The Edwards say both returns showed that they received a refund of more than $11,000 but that they only received about $3,000.
“I’m dumbfounded by the whole thing,” David says. “It’s so far-fetched it’s hard for me to even believe.”
The Edwards had to pay back more than $11,000 to the IRS despite saying they only received a $3,000 refund.
We contacted Heritage Tax owner Phillip Scafetta, he eventually responded by email saying in part “I explained how this worked that it was based on trust and the taxes would be adjusted when deemed necessary to pay for the solar system.”
He also says that the panels were placed on their home without a contract because “unfortunately the beginning process is based on trust and I told them that,” and “The entire process was halted because they said that they didn't approve anything.”
Scafetta goes on to say, “All my due diligence confirms to me that the tax code is very complicated and I was directed on how to complete the tax return by the IRS and other companies that deal with very wealthy taxpayers. I was able to bring this concept to individuals instead of large corporations benefiting from NOL (net operating loss). Only sophisticated Corporate CPAs and Tax Attornies [sic] understand the concepts.”
Scafetta confirmed that he is not a CPA or tax attorney.
He also says he changed the loss from $250,000 to $70,000 “since they disagreed to continue the solar project.”
Clean Energy Systems and owner Charles Kirkland did not return our calls but the company is fighting a tax adjustment imposed by the IRS.
The solar panels on the Edwards roof are no closer to being taken off or turned on but they say they hope they can help prevent others from making their mistakes.
“I think it’s pretty unfair and I hope it doesn’t happen to anybody else,” Marcy says.
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