JK Harris locks doors

John K. Harris

GOOSE CREEK — Bankrupt tax-preparation firm JK Harris suspended all operations late this afternoon and is bracing for a likely liquidation of the firm’s assets, according to founder and Chief Operating Officer John K. Harris.

As of the end of November, the company still employed about 135 people in Goose Creek. They were told late today that they would be locked out of the building at 5 p.m. and could return Friday to pack up their personal belongings.

The company was unable to secure additional funding after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in October, and will ask the court to convert the case to a Chapter 7, Harris said, which means that instead of restructuring, the company could be shut down and its assets sold.

“This is truly the most devastating event I have been forced to deal with in my 58 years on this earth,” Harris said in an email to employees. “I am not sure it will reach that level for all of you, but I know that for some of you it will be as personally devastating for you as it is for me.”

JK Harris & Co. once advertised that it could resolve people’s tax debts for “pennies on the dollar,” but the nationwide company was dogged by cash-flow problems and the cost of large settlements related to multiple claims that it misled consumers

The company sought bankruptcy protection in October to head off an attempt by the Texas attorney general’s office, related to consumer claims, to force the company into receivership. Harris, in emails to employees, vendors and clients, blamed today’s shutdown on the refusal of the company’s largest creditor, RAI Credit of New Jersey, to provide additional financing.

Employees who were previously laid off are among the creditors owed wages. Money is also owed to vendors, and to consumers who were to get millions of dollars in compensation from previously agreed-upon settlements, from a class-action suit and from complaints by multiple attorneys general.