In a case that rocked Kalamazoo, Michigan, a local woman who helped people file their tax returns, has been found guilt of 27 individual cases of felony tax fraud. It took the U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids to hear the case.
The court decided that 39 year old Fontrice Lenee Charles knowingly entered false information into tax returns which insured that her clients received larger reimbursements from the IRS than they would have if the paperwork had been filed properly. She ran this scam from 2011 through 2014.
At the time, Charles was operating a tax preparation company called #1 Tax Lady.
Each of Charles 27 convictions carries a 5 year maximum in prison though so far the judge who oversaw the case hasn’t handled the sentencing.
During the trial, the prosecution explained to the jury that Charles managed to file 967 different tax returns with inaccurate information which resulted in her collecting $4 million in improper refunds for herself and her clients.
The Justice Department issued a press release stating, “the jury also found Charles guilty of filing her own false tax returns for 2010 and 2011. These returns were false because they did not report the income that Charles earned as a result of her fraudulent tax preparation activity, and because she claimed a deceased person as a dependent.”
The trouble that some Americans encounter is that they trust their tax preparer is doing things properly and they fail to take the time to read over the return before it’s been filed, or simply don’t realize that some of the information is wrong. The government recently launched a study where they sent secret shoppers to different tax preparers. Only 11% of the completed tax returns contained accurate information. The mistakes on the rest of the tax returns were as low a $52 and as high as $3,718.
In the case of Fontrice Lenee Charles, the fraud was knowingly committed, but there have also been many situations where the preparer simply made a mistake. In many instances, the IRS doesn’t notice the mistake, while in others, a red flag is raised and the tax payer finds themselves being audited.
Don’t assume that just because the person who prepared your taxes made a mistake that it means you don’t have to worry about the IRS. As far as the IRS is concerned, it’s your problem so they’re going to come after you.
If you had your taxes professionally prepared and have learned that the IRS is now stating that you suddenly owe back taxes, the best thing you can do for yourself is to contact an experienced tax attorney and explain the situation. Don’t try to correct the issue yourself. Not only will the tax attorney make communicating with the IRS smoother, but the tax attorney will also prove that it was the preparer who made the error and that you knew nothing about it, and help negotiate a settlement with the IRS.