WASHINGTON – Two Baton Rouge, La., tax return preparers were indicted today on charges of aiding in the preparation of false tax returns, the Justice Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced. Cynthia Peters, who worked at Jasmine and Melissa’s Tax Service in Baton Rouge, was charged with seven counts of aiding in the preparation of false tax returns for clients. In a separate indictment, Melissa Edwards, who also worked at Jasmine and Melissa’s Tax Service, was charged with ten counts of aiding in the preparation of false tax returns for clients.
According to the indictment filed against her, Peters prepared fraudulent tax returns for seven clients that reported false amounts of telephone excise tax refund (TETR) credits. The TETR credit was a one-time credit available to taxpayers for the 2006 year. The credit was available in standard amounts ranging from $30 to $60 or in the amount of actual excise tax paid, which was 3% of the cost of long distance and bundled service over the period beginning after Feb. 28, 2003, and before Aug. 1, 2006. According to the indictment, Peters filed taxpayer returns claiming fraudulent TETR credits in amounts ranging from $1,190 to $4,900.
According to the indictment filed against her, Edwards prepared fraudulent tax returns for 10 clients that reported false amounts of TETR credits. The fraudulent TETR credit amounts ranged from $4,800 to $7,475.
An indictment is merely a formal charge by the grand jury. Each defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a U.S. District Court. If convicted, Peters faces a maximum potential sentence of 21 years in prison and a maximum fine of $1,750,000. If convicted, Edwards faces a maximum potential sentence of 30 years in prison and a maximum fine of $2,500,000.
Both cases are being prosecuted by Tax Division attorneys Kevin Lombardi and Matthew Mueller. The cases were investigated by the IRS, Criminal Investigation Division.
Additional information about the Justice Department’s Tax Division and its enforcement efforts may be found at www.usdoj.gov/tax/. Additional information about tax fraud schemes to watch out for may be found on the IRS Criminal Investigation Web site.