Federal Court Permanently Shuts Down South Florida Tax Return Preparer
A federal court in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, has permanently barred a Broward County man from preparing federal tax returns for others, the Justice Department announced today.
The United States filed a civil complaint against Eli St. Phard of Oakland Park, Florida, in April. The complaint alleged that he prepared income tax returns that fraudulently understated his customers’ tax liabilities by falsely claiming deductions for business expenses his customers never incurred; fraudulently overstating his customers’ claims for refunds by falsely claiming education or fuel tax credits to which his customers were not entitled; or both. According to the complaint, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) audited 340 of the returns St. Phard prepared and found that St. Phard understated the tax owed on all but five of the 340 returns—a total of more than $1.8 million in understatements. As a result of St. Phard’s fraudulent activities, many of his customers are now liable for significant tax deficiencies, penalties and interest, the complaint alleged.
In addition to barring St. Phard from preparing federal tax returns, the court ordered St. Phard to give the United States a list of his customers. St. Phard consented to entry of the order by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. St. Phard admitted, for purposes of this case, that he had engaged in conduct subject to penalty under the federal tax laws, but he did not admit to civil or criminal wrongdoing or to the specific allegations in the complaint.
Return preparer fraud is one of the IRS’s Dirty Dozen Tax Scams for 2016. The IRS has some tips on their website for choosing a tax preparer and has launched 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.