Florida Marketer in Syndicated Conservation Easement Scheme Pleads Guilty to Filing False Tax Return
Marketed Tax Shelter to Clients and Received Commission for Sales
A Florida man pleaded guilty yesterday to filing a false tax return that claimed a fraudulent charitable contribution relating to the donation of a conservation easement over land. The plea was entered before U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce E. Reinhart.
According to court documents and statements made in court, Randall Lenz, of Boca Raton, Florida, was a licensed CPA and attorney with more than thirty years of experience handling tax matters. From approximately 2015 through 2019, Lenz marketed to his clients illegal tax shelters developed and promoted by other individuals. In return, Lenz received a commission of 12% of the money his clients paid for their tax shelters. In all, Lenz received more than $700,000 in such commissions.
The tax shelters enabled high-income taxpayers to claim inflated charitable contribution deductions in connection with the purported donation of a conservation easement over land. The tax shelters operators created an LLC and then acquired land, or an entity that owned land, through the LLC. The promoters then sold units in funds operated by the LLCs to high-income clients. In exchange for those purchases, those clients were supplied with documentation and tax forms purporting to justify tax deductions in amounts 4 to 4.5 times the amount of money the clients paid for their units.
Lenz admitted that he knew the tax shelters did not entitle him to a tax deduction, but he nonetheless purchased units for himself for tax years 2018 and 2019. As a result, he was able to claim false charitable deductions of approximately $100,000 on his tax returns for each of those years.
Lenz faces a maximum penalty of three years in prison for filing a false tax return. He also faces a period of supervised release, restitution, and monetary penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division made the announcement.
IRS-Criminal Investigation and U.S. Postal Inspection Service are investigating the case.
Trial Attorneys Jessica A. Kraft and Nichols J. Schilling Jr. of the Tax Division are prosecuting the case.