Frank Azar ends 20-month fight with IRS over 2017 tax bill

Azar billboard

A Frank Azar billboard looms over a used car lot along South Broadway in Denver. (BusinessDen file)

Frank Azar, the powerhouse personal injury lawyer and denizen of countless Colorado billboards, has reached a settlement over a $716,000 tax bill he once sued to stop.

The agreement ends a 20-month tax dispute between Azar and the federal government that also gave rise to two related Colorado lawsuits, one of which is still ongoing.

Under the settlement between Azar and the Internal Revenue Service, he agreed to pay the bill plus an additional $53,000, for a total of $769,270. In exchange, the IRS agreed to drop a $143,000 penalty it had levied on the lawyer at the start of 2021.

Azar listed $3.9 million in taxable income for 2017. The IRS calculated the actual number to be $5.6 million, according to U.S. Tax Court records obtained by BusinessDen.

The settlement was approved by U.S. Tax Court Judge Cary Douglas Pugh on Dec. 13 and obtained by BusinessDen through an open records request.

Azar sued the IRS in April 2021, alleging it had made a long list of errors in determining that his 2017 tax return had been erroneous and that he owed an additional $716,443.

Azar’s lawsuit claimed the IRS had wrongly determined he made $1.3 million in taxable income from corporations in 2017, had wrongly prohibited him from deducting $193,802 in charitable donations, had ignored his capital losses of $185,175, had wrongly penalized him for a tax return that was accurate, and made five other significant mistakes.

Azar Headshot

Frank Azar, a popular personal injury lawyer. (Photo courtesy of Franklin D. Azar & Associates)

The case was scheduled for trial in April 2022 but later delayed at Azar’s request. It was rescheduled for Jan. 9, until last month’s settlement ended the need for a trial.

The tax bill has largely been paid, according to court documents. Azar sent the IRS about $312,000 in 2020 and the agency applied a $384,000 credit from Azar’s 2018 taxes to his 2017 debt. If he doesn’t pay the remaining $74,000, interest will accrue.

A spokeswoman for Azar declined to comment on the settlement. His tax lawyer, Lakewood attorney Charles Kersch Jr., did not respond to a request for comment.

The IRS was represented by Anne Craig, a senior attorney in its Denver office. Craig also did not respond to a request for comment about the settlement.

The settlement turns attention to an Arapahoe County case in which Azar is suing two accountants, Michael Sidon and Christopher Steedly, and their firm CBIZ for allegedly giving him bad advice that led to that 2017 tax bill. The defendants have denied wrongdoing.

In July, Azar asked that all proceedings in the case be placed on hold until the U.S. Tax Court case was resolved but Judge Peter Michaelson refused to do that. A five-day bench trial is scheduled to begin May 8 in Centennial.

The defendants in that case are represented by Steven Anderson and Brian Huebsch, with the Littleton law firm Anderson & Jahde. They declined to comment on the matter.

In May 2022, Azar settled a related lawsuit that he had filed late in 2021. In that case, he and his law firm, Azar & Associates, accused their tax preparer, Timothy McKey, of doing shoddy work on the 2017 tax returns. The terms of their settlement are confidential.

Azar billboard

A Frank Azar billboard looms over a used car lot along South Broadway in Denver. (BusinessDen file)

The IRS determined the personal injury lawyer’s taxable income for the year was $1.7 million more than he claimed.

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