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Press Release

Federal Court Permanently Bars Former Liberty Tax Service Owners from Tax Preparation Business

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs
Court also orders disgorgement of $175,000

A federal court in Tampa, Florida has permanently barred Steven Doletzky, formerly doing business as Liberty Tax Service, from operating a tax return preparation business and preparing federal tax returns for others, the Justice Department announced today. 

The court also ordered Doletzky to disgorge $175,000 of ill-gotten gains that the United States alleges he received from filing federal tax returns that claimed improper tax refunds, understated customers’ federal tax liabilities, or otherwise included false or fraudulent claims. 

Doletzky was sued along with two co-defendants, Michael Garno and Michael Bass. According to the complaint, employees at stores owned by Doletzky, Garno, and Bass prepared federal income tax returns that claimed fraudulent claims for tax credits, including for education credits and the Earned Income Tax Credit (“EITC”). For example, the complaint alleges that from 2013 to 2015, Liberty Tax Service stores owned by Doletzky or his co-defendants prepared and filed federal income tax returns that claimed over 500 false claims for education credits. The court previously entered orders of permanent injunction and disgorgement against Garno and Bass. Doletzky, Garno, and Bass agreed to entry of the permanent injunctions and disgorgement judgments without admitting to factual allegations in the complaint.

“Fraudulent tax return preparers too often seek to take advantage of their customers and the U.S. Treasury, which undermines our tax system,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Tax Division Richard Zuckerman. “The Justice Department will pursue those who would abuse our nation’s tax laws.”

Return preparer fraud was one of the IRS’s Dirty Dozen Tax Scams and taxpayers seeking a return preparer should remain vigilant. The IRS has information on their website about things taxpayers should remember when searching for a tax preparer and has a free directory of federal tax preparers.

In the past decade, the Tax Division has obtained injunctions against hundreds of unscrupulous tax preparers. Information about these cases is available on the Justice Department’s website. An alphabetical listing of persons enjoined from preparing returns and promoting tax schemes can be found on this page. If you believe that one of the enjoined persons or businesses may be violating an injunction, please contact the Tax Division with details.

Updated March 16, 2020

Press Release Number: 20-321