Federal Court Shuts Down New Orleans-Area Tax Return Preparer
A federal court in New Orleans, Louisiana has permanently barred Tiga Bryant from preparing federal tax returns for others, the Justice Department announced today. In its complaint, the government alleged that Tiga Bryant of New Orleans, Louisiana, sometimes doing business as “Denson’s Fast Tax Services,” fraudulently reduced her customers’ tax liabilities by improperly claiming bogus deductions and fuel tax credits. Bryant agreed to the civil injunction order entered against her, which requires her to turn over to the United States a list of all persons for whom she prepared federal tax returns since 2014. The court also authorized the United States to monitor Bryant’s compliance with the terms of the injunction.
The government’s complaint alleged that Bryant claimed false employee business expense deductions that improperly reduced her customer’s taxable income. In more than one example, the complaint alleged that Bryant claimed a customer incurred employee business expenses totaling slightly less than half the wages the customer earned in that particular year. According to the complaint, Bryant even claimed that one of her customers had incurred employee business expenses totaling more than the wages the employee earned in that year. In each of these instances, the customers did not actually incur the expenses Bryant reported on the return, according to the complaint.
In addition to claiming fraudulent deductions for her customers, Bryant also claimed bogus fuel tax credits, according to the complaint. Fraud involving the fuel tax credit is one of the IRS’s Dirty Dozen Tax Scams for 2017. The fuel tax credit is generally limited to off-highway business use, and consequently, not available to most taxpayers. For example, Bryant reported on one of her customer’s returns that the customer used 2500 gallons of gasoline for off-highway business use when the customer only used her vehicle for driving between home, work, school, and child responsibilities, according to the complaint.
According to the complaint, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) audited 197 returns prepared by Bryant and determined that Bryant claimed credits and/or deductions her customers were not entitled to take on 96 percent (189) of these returns and understated their tax liabilities by more than $800,000.
Return preparer fraud is one of the IRS’s Dirty Dozen Tax Scams for 2017 and taxpayers seeking a return preparer should remain vigilant. 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.