Justice Department Sues to Shut Down Return Preparers

Justice Department Sues to Shut Down Miami Return Preparers

(STL.News) The United States has filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida seeking to bar three Miami tax return preparers from owning or operating a tax return preparation business and preparing federal income tax returns for others, as well as to require the defendants to disgorge the fees they received for fraudulently prepared returns.

The civil complaint was filed against Cindy Odige, Rudy Aly, Rhonda Hudge and TUPS Tax LLC. According to the complaint, Odige, Aly and Hudge prepared and filed tax returns that falsely understated their customers’ federal income tax liabilities by fabricating businesses and related business expenses; making up education, fuel, residential energy, qualified and family sick leave, and mortgage interest credits; and inventing household help income and business losses to maximize customers’ Earned Income Tax Credits.

According to the complaint, the defendants prepared thousands of tax returns for tax years 2015 through 2020. The complaint alleges that the IRS reviewed income tax returns for 98 of the defendants’ customers and found that returns for 85 of those customers had fraudulent or fabricated information, often included without the customers’ knowledge or consent. As a result, the complaint alleges, the defendants have cost the United States lost tax revenue, as well as the time and resources necessary to investigate the fraudulent returns. The complaint further alleges that the defendants harmed their customers, who could potentially face large income tax debts and may be liable for penalties and interest.

Deputy Assistant Attorney General David A. Hubbert of the Justice Department’s Tax Division made the announcement.

Return preparer fraud is one of the IRS’ Dirty Dozen Tax Scams and taxpayers seeking a return preparer should remain vigilant. (More information can also be found here.) The IRS has information on its website for choosing a tax preparer, has launched a free directory of federal tax preparers, and offers information on how to avoid “ghost” tax preparers, whose refusal to sign a return should be a red flag to taxpayers. The IRS also has a checklist of things to remember when filing income tax returns in 2022.

In addition, IRS Free File, a public-private partnership, offers free online tax preparation and filing options on IRS partner websites for individuals whose adjusted gross income is under $73,000. For individuals whose income is over that threshold, IRS Free File offers electronical federal tax forms that can be filled out and filed online for free. The IRS has tips on how seniors and individuals with low to moderate income can get other help or guidance on tax return preparation, too.

In the past decade, the Tax Division has obtained injunctions against hundreds of unscrupulous tax preparers. Information about these cases is available on the Justice Department’s website. An alphabetical listing of persons enjoined from preparing returns and promoting tax schemes can be found this page. If you believe that one of the enjoined persons or businesses may be violating an injunction, please contact the Tax Division with details.

SOURCE: USDOJ.Today