Millennium Tax Nightmare

Message-ID: <>
Date: Sat, 7 Apr 2001 22:18:17 EDT
Subject: AMEX Sucks

Just wanted to add my story to the other poor victims out there. 

I would like you all to hear my story, which is still in progress. It's not about AMEX's credit card but about their brokerage arm. I have only used AMEX services 3 times in my life and each time has been a disaster. I too have had the same problems everybody else has had with the credit card so I will not go into that. I also want to add that I do not work for or have ever worked for a credit card company or a brokerage firm. I am just an ordinary guy trying to make it through life.

I decided to use AMEX Financial Advisors to trade my IRA stock online for one reason only. They promised that I would have free unlimited trading if you have over $100,000 in your account. This was very appealing to me. You can run up huge transaction fees if you trade often such as Day Traders do. They opened the account in a very speedy manner with no problems. After about 3 months is when the problems started. I received a letter stating that I would now have to pay to trade online. Seems they like to sucker you in then change the rules. Since I was never happy with the online trading service (website was always down) I decided to cash out and change my investments and buy property since the stock market has been in shambles.

I called AMEX just before Christmas 2000 and asked to cash out and to make sure that all taxes (over $55,000) are paid in the year 2000. The reason it was so important for it be reported in the year 2000 is that I only worked 2 months last year. I was laid off and took a year to travel and rest. I was in a lower tax bracket and needed to save on the taxes. I went back to work full time in 2001. The service representative said there wouldn't be a problem. Three days later I checked my account and the money was still sitting there. I called AMEX again and stressed how important it was that I cash out in 2000 not 2001. I was told that they were aware of this and that there was still time to complete the distribution in 2000. The money finally was removed from my account so I waited for my check. I did receive the check for the full distribution less the taxes. I then spent the money to buy some property.

Well, to my surprise when I received the 1099 form from AMEX it stated I took a distribution in 2001 not 2000 for the total amount in my account and that no taxes were withheld. I don't know about you but $55,000 is a lot of money to me. I immediately called AMEX and told them I needed a corrected 1099 form stating that I cashed out in 2000 and AMEX did withhold the $55,000 in taxes.  I received a new 1099 stating I cashed out in 2000 but no taxes withheld. Again I called AMEX and got the usual pass off to different people of which none were helpful or even seemed to give a damn. 

After numerous phone calls I finally got the name of a supervisor so I had documentation on who was giving me information (in case I needed a lawyer). Guess what the supervisor said. "I will pass this on to the tax department." I received a letter from the tax department telling me that the distribution occurred in 2000 but AMEX paid the taxes for the year 2001 and the IRS will not permit them go back and adjust for the year 2000. I would just have to pay the 2000 taxes out of my own pocket and wait until 2001 taxes to recoup some of the money. I don't have $55,000 sitting around to pay my taxes not to mention all the interest I am loosing over the year and the fact I will be in a much higher tax bracket in 2001.

This is as far as my story has gone. My tax situation is out of control and I will need to take a loan (I can't afford) to pay my taxes and penalties. It's a possibility I will loose my property just because AMEX feels it can do what ever it wants with my money.  I definitely am getting a lawyer to sue. 

I would never recommend anyone to use any of AMEX services at anytime under any circumstances. It just isn't worth the risk of financial catastrophe. I am just amazed that this company is still in business. The government should be looking into their practices.