Federal Court Permanently Shuts Down Two Miami-Area Tax Return Preparers
A federal court in the Southern District of Florida has permanently enjoined two Miami-area tax return preparers from preparing federal income tax returns for others.
The injunctions against Gerald Vito, James Eleby and Gerald Vito LLC dba Income Tax Services, were entered by default. The complaint filed against the defendants alleged that they prepared tax returns that significantly understated their customers’ tax liabilities by claiming deductions for fabricated or inflated charitable deductions, medical expenses and employee business expenses. The complaint further alleged that the defendants significantly understated their customers’ tax liabilities by reporting false or inflated business losses. In addition, the complaint alleged, the defendants often deducted hundreds of dollars in fees from their customers’ refunds, in many cases without disclosing the fee that they charged. According to the complaint, based on IRS estimates from audits of some of the defendants’ customers, the defendants’ fraudulent activities likely cost the United States millions of dollars in lost tax revenue.
Deputy Assistant Attorney General David A. Hubbert of the Justice Department’s Tax Division made the announcement.
Return preparer fraud is one of the IRS’ Dirty Dozen Tax Scams and taxpayers seeking a return preparer should remain vigilant. (More information can also be found here.) The IRS has information on its website for choosing a tax preparer, has launched a free directory of federal tax preparers and offers information on how to avoid “ghost” tax preparers, whose refusal to sign a return should be a red flag to taxpayers. The IRS also has a list of important reminders for taxpayers who are about to file their 2020 tax returns, including how to prepare for a smooth filing process.
In addition, IRS Free File, a public-private partnership, offers free online tax preparation and filing options on IRS partner websites for individuals whose adjusted gross income is under $72,000. For individuals whose income is over that threshold, IRS Free File offers electronical federal tax forms that can be filled out and filed online for free.
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 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.