Federal Internal Revenue Service agents raided a northwest Santa Rosa tax preparation office Tuesday morning with a warrant to search the business west of Coddingtown Mall.

An IRS spokeswoman declined to discuss the purpose of the 9:15 a.m. raid.

"We are out there on official business, but at this point I'm not able to say anything about the purpose of our being there," spokeswoman Arlette Lee said.

Witnesses said several dozen agents from IRS Criminal Investigations swooped in on America's Income Tax, located on Guerneville Road in Coddingtown Plaza. One witness, jeweler Loren Hovland, said he was nearly run down by vehicles that swerved into an opposing lane of Range Avenue to use a back entry into the business complex.

Two agents posted outside the door of the tax office declined to comment on the operation. Agents were continuing to search the office into the evening.

America's Income Tax is owned by Efrain and Elizabeth Jovel, whose two daughters and a family friend also are licensed tax preparers for the firm, according to the company's website.

They were not available for comment despite repeated phone calls, and the company's website stopped displaying information later in the day.

Efrain Jovel started the firm out of his home in the early 1980s to help members of the Latino community with their taxes and moved to the Guerneville Road office in 1983, according to the website.

His wife, president of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Sonoma County in 2008, joined him in the business a few years later.

"They're the nicest family," said Donna Jones, who works at a nearby optometry office. "I hope there's not something going on because they really are extremely nice people."

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