Federal Court Shuts Down Long Island Tax Return Preparers
Enjoined Tax Return Preparers Allegedly Claimed False Education Tax Credits
A federal court in New York permanently enjoined Elias Linares, Margea Zaldivar, and their businesses Taxes La Universal Corp., Universal Taxes & Staffing Corp. and Taxes La Universal II Corp., from preparing federal tax returns for others, the Justice Department announced today. Linares and Zaldivar agreed to a civil injunction order entered against them, which requires them and their businesses to cease tax return preparation and notify current and former clients of the injunction.
According to the government’s complaint, Linares and Zaldivar, through their businesses located in Freeport and Roosevelt, New York, routinely prepared federal tax returns for customers that contained false or erroneous claims for education tax credits, fuel tax credits and the Earned Income Tax Credit. For example, the complaint alleges that Linares and Zaldivar falsely claimed education tax credits, including listing the Department of Education as an educational institution at which their customers incurred fictitious educational expenses. During the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) investigation of Linares, Zaldivar, and their businesses, the IRS sent questionnaires to their customers whose returns contained suspicious items, according to the complaint. One of these customers dropped off the IRS’s questionnaire at Taxes La Universal and picked it up when it was completed, according to the complaint. This questionnaire stated that the customer attended a local community college, and during an interview with the IRS, this customer stated that this information was not true, according to the complaint.
The complaint alleges that these types of return preparer misconduct allowed Linares and Zaldivar to understate their customers’ tax liabilities and claim undeserved refunds. As alleged in the complaint, IRS examinations of 51 returns prepared by Linares, Zaldivar, or their businesses show that all 51 contained false or erroneous claims resulting in a collective tax deficiency of over $479,000.
Return preparer fraud is one of the IRS's Dirty Dozen Tax Scams for 2017. The IRS has some tips on their website for choosing a tax preparer. 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.