Illinois Federal Court Bars Woman and Her Businesses from Preparing Tax Returns
A federal court in Chicago has permanently barred Laurie G. Helfer, aka Laurie G. Powell, individually and doing business as Laurie’s Freelance & Tax Preparation Services and Tax Lady Laurie Inc., from preparing federal tax returns for others and from operating a tax return business, the Justice Department announced today. The defendant was also ordered to surrender any existing Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) or Electronic Filing Identification Number (EFIN) registered in her name or in any name used for any purpose by Helfer.
The civil injunction order, to which the defendant consented, was signed by Judge Harry D. Leinenweber of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
According to the complaint, Helfer promised her customers that she could obtain tax refunds for them by amending their tax returns from prior years. Helfer allegedly fabricated expenses from businesses that she concocted and entered those expenses on a Schedule C-Profit or Loss From Business that she filed with her customers’ amended tax returns. The complaint alleged that the expenses offset her customers’ income from prior years and illegally generated a refund. Helfer also prepared original returns for customers during tax-filing season using this same scheme. The complaint further alleged that, in an attempt to avoid detection by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Helfer stopped signing the tax returns that she prepared and frequently changed the locations in which she prepared her customers’ tax returns, including various Chicago-area hotel rooms.
Return preparer fraud is one of the IRS’ Dirty Dozen Tax Scams for 2015. 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 and tax scheme promoters. Information about these cases is available on the Justice Department 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.