Groundworks outfit Anglia Civil Engineering ceased trading on 13 January, laying off 180 staff.
A dispute has since erupted among the Laindon-based company's directors.
In a letter to creditors, former directors Peter and Robert Humphrey say Anglia was advised to set up a labour-hire business when the clampdown on bogus self-employment began in 1997.
At the time, firms were told to do this to avoid taking large numbers of labour-only subcontractors on to their books.
A year later, the Inland Revenue told the company it could no longer operate the arrangement.
The Revenue ordered the firm to pay more than £200,000 in back taxes.
I’m trying to contact Peter and Robert Humphrey but they won’t speak to me. The matter is with my solicitor Peter Chadwick, Anglia
Peter and Robert Humphrey say they resigned from Anglia in October last year over "differences between the directors" relating to responsibility for the tax bill.
Peter Chadwick, the company's third director, opted to try to trade his way out of the difficulties, but decided to call it a day earlier this month. A winding-up order has been issued, with a receiver expected to be appointed in March.
Chadwick refused to go into details about the events leading up to the company's collapse, but admitted that the tax bill had been a major factor. He said: "I'm trying to contact them [Peter and Robert Humphrey], but they won't speak to me. The matter is now between me and my solicitor. I would rather sort it out by talking to them." Chadwick said the firm, which was founded in 1991, was working on 23 contracts. The contracts have gone to other firms, as have most of the company's staff.
The Inland Revenue refused to confirm that it had contacted the firm over its employment practices.
Meanwhile, construction union UCATT is planning to pursue the company over redundancy money it claims is still owed to workers.
Materials haulier Trevor Cottis is owed £31 000 for 60 days' work.