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Pennsylvania tax preparers face fraud charges

A fraud investigation has led to state charges and the possibility of federal charges being filed against a Pennsylvania couple. The 36-year-old husband and his 35-year-old wife ran a tax preparation service and they now stand accused of pocketing a portion of their client's tax refunds.

Authorities began investigating the couple when two separate consumers filed fraud reports. They claimed that the 35-year-old man prepared and filed their income tax forms on behalf of customers, but only gave customers a portion of their tax refunds.

One of the alleged victims said that the tax preparer did the 2009 and 2010 tax returns for her family, and that the tax preparer had the tax returns deposited directly into his own bank account. He allegedly told the victims that this was a common practice that was condoned by the IRS. One of the victims told police that the tax preparer gave her family a total of $7,000 in refunds. When the police contacted the IRS, the IRS informed them that the victim's family should have received a total refund of $14,243.

A second woman filed a similar complaint. According to court documents, the tax preparer gave her $4,365 when her total refund was $10,554. Court documents also allege that the tax preparer claimed numerous deductions that did not apply to his clients, and inflated their overall returns by doing so.

Authorities allege that the couple involved in the tax preparation business collected tax returns totaling $67,466, but only gave $19,541 to its clients. The couple is now facing Pennsylvania state charges of theft, conspiracy, money laundering and receiving stolen property.

Authorities have referred the case to federal authorities, including the IRS and banking regulators. After further investigation, additional federal charges, including tax fraud charges, may be filed.

Source: York Daily Record, "Dover Township tax preparer charged with fraud," Mike Argento, 5/20/2011

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