A federal court in New Orleans has permanently barred Cathy and Lashanda Vinnett from preparing federal tax returns for others, the Justice Department announced today. The civil injunction order, to which the Vinnetts agreed without admitting the government’s allegations, was signed by Judge Helen G. Berrigan of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.
The government’s complaint alleged that Cathy Vinnett and her daughter Lashanda, both from Destrehan, La., and their companies – M&C Tax Service, D&C Tax Service, River Parish Tax Professionals and Remarkable Tax Services – prepared federal tax returns for customers claiming fraudulent tax refunds based on fabricated telephone excise tax refund claims, earned-income tax credits and first-time homebuyer tax credits. After claiming these improper refunds, the lawsuit alleged, the Vinnetts kept most of the resulting money for themselves, without telling their customers. The lawsuit alleges that the defendants’ misconduct caused as much as $2.2 million in harm to the government.
The court order also requires the Vinnetts to inform their customers of the order and to provide the government with a list of their customers since Jan. 1, 2007.
In the past decade, the Justice Department’s Tax Division has obtained injunctions against hundreds of tax fraud promoters and unscrupulous tax return preparers. Information about these cases is available on the Justice Department website.