WASHINGTON – A federal court in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., has permanently barred Danesa Webb from preparing federal tax returns for others, the Justice Department announced today. In the civil injunction order issued by Judge William P. Dimitrouleas, the court found that Webb, of Broward County, Fla., prepared returns for her customers that falsely claimed several tax credits and reported false income and expenses. Webb did not contest the government’s allegations.
The court found that many of Webb’s customers were homeless and had no income, and that she “targeted and victimized unsuspecting distressed individuals with the promise of quick and easy cash.” According to the court’s order, Webb or her agents falsely told individuals that they were eligible for special credits or funds offered by the federal government, prepared tax returns for them with fabricated information and took a sizable portion of the tax refunds as a fee.
The court’s order states that one of the falsely-claimed tax credits was the first-time-homebuyer credit, which Congress enacted in 2008 to strengthen the real estate market and help the economy. Persons who had not owned a home in the previous three years could claim a credit of up to $8,000 against their federal income taxes if they bought a home after April 8, 2008. Congress later expanded the program to allow current homeowners to claim the credit for a purchase of a new home, under certain conditions. The credit has since expired.
According to the court’s order, Webb claimed the first-time-homebuyer credit on her customers’ tax returns even though she knew the customers had not bought new homes. The order also states that Webb claimed fabricated business deductions and education credits on some customers’ returns, and on other returns she failed to report the proper amounts of her customers’ incomes. At times, according to the order, Webb prepared returns for persons without those persons’ knowledge.
Return preparer fraud is identified by the Internal Revenue Service as one of the “Dirty Dozen” tax scams taxpayers are urged to avoid. In the past decade, the Justice Department’s Tax Division has obtained hundreds of injunctions to stop the promotion of tax fraud schemes and the preparation of fraudulent returns. Information about these cases is available on the Justice Departmentwebsite .