With tax season just wrapping up, many Pennsylvania residents are breathing a sigh of relief to have their returns prepared and filed in advance of the deadline. A significant number of taxpayers choose to hire a professional to complete and file their tax returns, and place a great deal of trust in the individual or firm chosen to complete this important task. News reports of the recent conviction of a tax preparer accused of federal fraud has many taxpayers doubting whether their returns have been properly handled.
The case centered on a 50-year-old man who ran a tax return service from his home office. According to prosecutors, the man prepared and filed numerous tax returns using false information, for the purpose of netting his clients a higher refund than that which they were entitled to. A federal jury convicted him on 63 counts of fraud.
As part of the case, the jury heard testimony of approximately 25 individuals who hired the man to prepare their returns. In order to achieve higher refund amounts, he included earned income credits, child credits and credits for environmentally-friendly home improvements. He is also said to have changed the filing status of some taxpayers to head of household instead of married, which also led to higher returns.
There is no indication of the defense strategy that the Pennsylvania man and his legal team employed during the federal fraud trial, or whether it was argued that the actions taken were the result of false information provided by his clients. Sentencing in the case has not yet taken place. The man faces between 33 and 41 months in prison, as well as a fine of up to $21 million.
Source: Roxborough-Manayunk Pa. Patch, "East Falls Tax Preparer Guilty of Fraud", James Boyle, April 9, 2015