WASHINGTON – A federal court has issued a preliminary injunction barring Penny Lea Jones of Idaho Falls, Idaho, from preparing federal income tax returns for others, the Justice Department announced today. The court found that Jones promotes a tax defier scheme that claims large fraudulent tax refunds for customers. The order, entered by U.S. District Judge Edward J. Lodge, remains in effect while the lawsuit is pending.
The court found that Jones repeatedly prepared federal income tax returns claiming bogus refunds based on a tax fraud scheme known as the "redemption" scheme. The court held that Jones prepared and filed 333 income tax returns for customers in 2008 and 2009 claiming more than $93 million in fraudulent refunds. The court said that the redemption scheme is based on a frivolous theory that the federal government maintains secret accounts for its citizens, and that taxpayers can gain access to funds in those accounts by issuing IRS 1099-OID forms to their creditors.
The case against Jones is one of seven lawsuits the Justice Department filed across the nation in October 2009 that seek to shut down tax preparers who allegedly promote the redemption scheme. The defendants in those cases allegedly prepared tax returns fraudulently requesting a total of $562.4 million in refunds. Under the scheme, participants file a series of false IRS forms, including tax returns, amended returns, and Forms 1099 (including Form 1099-OID) or Forms W-2, to request fraudulent tax refunds based on phony claims of large income tax withholding.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) catches the vast majority of fraudulent redemption-scheme tax refund claims without issuing any refund. Taxpayers who submit the claims face substantial civil monetary penalties, and possible criminal prosecution.
John A. DiCicco, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Tax Division, thanked James Strong, the Justice Department trial attorney who handled the case and Shauna Henline, the IRS senior technical advisor who conducted the investigation.
In the past decade, the Justice Department’s Tax Division has obtained more than 435 injunctions against dishonest tax-return preparers and tax-fraud promoters. Information about these cases is available on the Justice Department Web site.