Federal revenue officers Thursday seized the bookkeeping office of a Hollywood man who the Internal Revenue Service says owes $197,000 in delinquent taxes.
For the past 10 years, Eugene Shafer has claimed that the Fifth Amendment protects his right to privacy. Thus, he has refused to disclose his income and expenses on tax returns.
The IRS says Shafer accumulated the tax debt by paying no taxes from 1977 to 1983. Officers arrived at Shafer's tiny Hollywood Boulevard office early in the morning and padlocked the door.
"We will inventory whatever assets there might be that are salable . . . and then we will hold the sale," an IRS spokeswoman said.
Shafer claims that there are only a couple hundred dollars worth of belongings in the office--some furniture and supplies.
"They've locked me out. I can't even get to my phone," the 69-year-old man said. "If they are successful at holding this, then I am bankrupt."
Last September, state tax officials seized a $36,000 property that Shafer held in Hollywood. The IRS also seized a savings account in July and came up with 37 cents, according to banking records. The bookkeeper says there is not much more for the government to take.
In the past, Shafer has accused the IRS of harassing him because he invoked the protection of the Constitution. Assistant U.S. Atty. Edward M. Robbins Jr., who has handled part of the government's case against Shafer, has called Shafer's argument "totally frivolous."
Shafer now says he will fight the seizure of his office.