The United States filed a lawsuit yesterday in The District of New Jersey to bar Eric Majette of Somerville, N.J., from preparing federal tax returns, the Justice Department announced today. As alleged in the complaint, Majette owned and operated a tax preparation business named “Berrisford Group” with offices in Plainfield and Somerville.
According to the complaint, from 2006 until 2011, Majette prepared and filed tax returns that contained false or inflated itemized deductions for items such as medical and dental expenses, gifts, and business expenses that resulted in his customers receiving larger tax refunds than they were entitled. The complaint further alleges that Majette encouraged his customers to submit false documents, such as fraudulent charitable contribution receipts, to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Earlier this year, Majette pleaded guilty to corruptly endeavoring to obstruct and impede the internal revenue laws and to preparing a false tax return. He was sentenced to serve 30 months in prison and one year of supervised probation upon release, and ordered to pay $123,440 in restitution. The civil complaint filed yesterday alleges that between 2009 and 2012, Majette prepared 1,853 tax returns for customers and 93 percent of these returns claimed tax refunds. According the complaint, the IRS examined 428 of these returns and determined that they understated the customers’ correct tax liability by a total of $838,837, an average of $1,960 per return. The complaint estimates that the total harm caused by the 1,723 tax refunds claiming returns could be as much as $3 million.
Return preparer fraud is one of the IRS’ Dirty Dozen Tax Scams for 2013 which can be viewed at www.irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/IRS-Releases-the-Dirty-Dozen-Tax-Scams-for-2013 . The IRS has some tips for choosing a tax preparer: www.irs.gov/Tax-Professionals/Choosing-a-Tax-Professional. In the past decade, the department’s Tax Division has obtained injunctions against hundreds of unscrupulous tax preparers. Information about these cases is available on the Justice Department website at www.justice.gov/tax/taxpress2013.htm .