WASHINGTON - A federal court has permanently barred Harold Mette of Bradenton, Fla., from preparing federal income tax returns for others, the Justice Department announced today. Mette, who has a Ph.D. degree and calls his business "The Tax Doctor," consented to the permanent injunction order, which was entered by U.S. District Judge Richard A. Lazzara in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.
According to the government complaint, Mette promoted a sham home-based business scheme in the Manatee County area in Florida. The complaint alleges that Mette created a bogus corporation for each customer in order to fraudulently claim the customer’s non-deductible personal expenses as tax-deductible business expenses. Among the improper personal expenses allegedly claimed as deductions were customers’ personal utility bills, mortgage payments, car expenses, vacations, and children’s education expenses. The suit alleges that Mette deducted customers’ personal medical expenses as purported "incentive" payments on the corporation returns.
"Taxpayers should choose their preparer carefully and review their returns closely before signing to ensure that they are correct," said John A. DiCicco, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Tax Division. "If a preparer’s claim about a new way to save on taxes sounds too good to be true, it probably is."
Acting Assistant Attorney General DiCicco thanked Tax Division trial attorney Olivia R. Hussey, who handled the case for the government. During the past decade, the Justice Department has obtained injunctions against more than 375 tax return preparers and tax-fraud promoters. Information about these cases is available on the Justice Department Web site.