Within the last two weeks alone, Tabetha Jones has kicked up such an enormous dust storm of crap that it would take days, maybe weeks, to chase down every bit and blog about it. From disastrous displays of motherhood failure to dragging a troubled teen’s name and problems into a very public arena. She nas an ailing mother that’s had cancer, countless heart “aches” and now, somehow, has become the victim of elder nursing home abuse that’s left her with multiple compound fractures that the hospital might get around to fixing sometime next week. And she’s had a biopsy that she called surgery to milk for sympathy and a laporoscopic surgery that she said was going to happen on two different dates, only to be released less than a day after, at two in the morning. And there’s so much more. It would be very easy to get distracted and spend all my time chasing down every single little bit of tawdry bullshit to blog about. Lord knows there’s enough of it.
And I think that’s on purpose. The more time and attention we spend on her bullshit, the less we pay to the facts.
The more little truths we expose about her, the more she points at the sheer volume of posts and comments on this blog as reasons to dismiss the facts as “hate” and “lies.” Her new authors are probably willing to take her explanation at face value, hearing her side of the story with her “I’m innocent!” spin on it. Besides, who wants to read through hundreds of posts and thousands of comments hoping to find the bigger facts buried within?
So, for this post at least, I’m not going to waste my time chasing down her hefty gaggle of wild geese. I’m going to stick to the facts that her new authors and models need to be aware of before they decide to sign with her.
Tabetha Jones is a scam artist. By definition, a scam artist is a person who attempts to defraud others by presenting a fraudulent offer and pretending that it is legitimate; a con artist. You’ll find Tabetha’s picture next to this word in the dictionary.
The definition of fraud is wrongful or criminal deception intended to result in financial or personal gain.
The fraud that Tabetha’s guilty of is calling herself a publishing company. She’s got a history of lying about how her company exists, first saying that it was a sole proprietorship, even though she either had or claimed to have partners and employees. A sole proprietorship can have neither. A sole proprietorship doesn’t need a tax number, but can instead file taxes on the sole owner’s social security number.
But when a company takes on a partner, you can’t have two people filing on one person’s social security number. They must get a Tax ID number, an EIN. Same thing with employees. Employee taxes have to be withheld and filed, and Tabetha’s done none of it.
Tabetha likes to say that all of her employees are actually Independent Contractors, so she doesn’t have to claim them on taxes. There are two things wrong with that.
First, an Independant Contractor must exist as a taxable entity in their own right. They have to be an established business. Hers aren’t. They’re friends that she recruits to do her work for her. Since they aren’t legally classified as Independent Contractors, they are, by default, employees that she never filed the proper paperwork for.
Second, Independent contractors paid more than $600 dollars a year must be provided with a 1099 form so that they can properly report their earnings to the IRS. Tabetha doesn’t. She gets around this by paying her “Independent Contractors” twenty bucks for artwork, or promising them a portion of royalties in lieu of an actual paycheck so that their income is less than $600 a year. So if you’ve ever wondered why Tabetha’s workers are so cheap, it’s to get around taxes.
Even if Tabetha gets around filing tax paperwork for a real Independent Contractor (which hers aren’t) by being such a cheap date, there’s still paperwork she’s supposed to file. Before a company hires an Independent Contractor, it must get them to fill out a W-9, a request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification, or TIN, of the worker. The W-9 should be kept in your files for four years for future reference in case of any questions from the worker or the IRS.
I’ve talked to a few of Tabetha’s former employees, all of whom she called an Independent Contractor, and not one of them ever filled out a W-9 for her. Not one. That alone means that they aren’t IC’s. They’re employees.
So, while Tabetha thinks she’s being clever by calling her employees Independent Contractors (which they aren’t) and paying them little enough to fly under the IRS’s radar, the truth is that they’re employees for whom she’s supposed to have been withholding taxes and filling out tax paperwork for all this time. She hasn’t. So she’s guilty of tax fraud. And make no mistake, they are looking.
Now, she and Jackie are trying to pass Phoenix Fire Publishing off as an LLC, probably to try to appear more legitimate and to intimidate authors who try to leave. Tabetha likes to make herself seem untouchable to authors that want to leave her. In the past, she’s threatened them with her lawyer that she doesn’t have. That lie’s been blown, so she needs a new tactic. Claiming that as an LLC, she can’t be sued, it gives her a tool with which to intimidate authors into thinking they have no legal recourse against her.
Lately, Tabetha’s made comments about adding paperwork to the Phoenix Fire publishing website, and about changing all of their accounts with their new tax number.
First, they can put anything they want on their website. It’s meaningless, most likely typed up on somebody’s handy-dandy word program to convince new victims of their legitimacy.
The simple truth is that every taxable entity (like an LLC) in a state must register with the Secretary of State and appear on a searchable database. There’s no clever excuse an LLC can give for not being on there. If a company doesn’t appear on the SoS’s searchable database, it does not legally exist. Period.
As for the new tax ID number she claims to have, there’s every reason to be skeptical. IF she’s got one, it doesn’t prove that she’s formed an LLC. Anybody can request a tax ID #. It’s not proof that there’s any legal paperwork filed making a company a legal limited partnership. If she can’t provide a link to the SoS website where her company shows up as a valid (legal) LLC, chances are that either she or her partner requested a tax ID as an individual, and she’s just SAYING it’s for the Phoenix Fire publishing LLC.
Authors, models, and anybody else thinking about doing business with Tabetha Jones and Phoenix Fire Publishing, do your homework. Make sure that her company exists as a legal taxable entity before you sign on the dotted line. Don’t accept any paperwork she offers to send you; it’s too easily fabricated in a word program. Don’t accept any evidence she can show you on her own website, and don’t accept any emails she offers to forward, either. Same thing. It’s too easily cooked up.
The only evidence that proves that an LLC exists as a legal taxable entity is if it can be searched for and found on the Secretary of State’s searchable database.
And, for heaven’s sake, don’t accept any lame explanation that a third party is going to buy Phoenix Fire, keeping Tabetha on as “the face” of the company, or already has. Even if that were the case, the company still has to exist as a legal taxable LLC, regardless of who actually owns it. Demand to know what state this mythical third party lives so you can look it up.
She might try to be clever, having a third party take over the company as a sole proprietorship, to fool us and the Feds, and to cover her own ass, but just take a look at her Facebook, blog and website. They all say that Phoenix Fire Publishing is an LLC with Tabetha and Jackie as equal co-owners. So make her prove it. Make her tell you what state the company is filed in so that you can look it up on the SoS’s website.
And if she tries to tell you that her “attorney” told her not to give that information out (for whatever reason), don’t buy it. Ask her for her lawyer’s contact information so that you can contact him to ask about the company you’re considering signing with. She won’t give it to you because she doesn’t have a lawyer. All she’s got is a (possibly fake) author that she says doesn’t represent her but is giving her legal advice.
Don’t accept any excuse for not getting confirmation of Phoenix Fire publishing’s legal status. The only reason a business “owner” won’t give out that information is because s/he’s a scam artist that’s trying to con you. A real company won’t have any problem giving you any information you ask for. Only a fake will throw out excuses.
It’s very simple. If Phoenix Fire publishing doesn’t appear on a Secretary of State’s searchable database of taxable legal entities, it doesn’t exist as one. Keep looking until you find a legitimate publisher.
If you’ve already signed a contract with Phoenix Fire publishing, don’t worry. You’re not stuck with a scam. If the company isn’t legal, neither is the contract. You can demand your work back from her, as well as any other materials you’ve paid for, and you can walk away. Don’t let her tell you that you have to pay a separation fee to get away from her, either. Remember, that was part of the contract that wasn’t legal in the first place. Tell her to stuff it. And don’t let her hold your work hostage until or unless you sign some bogus release form. Tell her to stuff that, too.
Don’t let her bully or intimidate you in any way. If she tries it, come here and tell us. There are a few ex authors and employees around here that will be happy to advise you on how to deal with Tabetha Jones.