Justice Department Asks Federal Court to Shut Down Fraudulent New York Tax Return Business
The United States filed a complaint seeking to permanently bar a former Staten Island, New York, man and the tax preparation business he operates from preparing federal tax returns for others, the Justice Department announced today.
The civil complaint against Ranti Azeez-Taiwo and his business, Lot Associates Inc., was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. The complaint alleges that Azeez-Taiwo prepares federal income tax returns for customers that understate their correct tax liabilities. The government’s suit alleges that the understatements are the result of fabricated or inflated itemized deductions, particularly charitable deductions and unreimbursed employee business expense deductions, which are claimed on Schedule A, and sole-proprietorship business expenses, which are claimed on Schedule C. According to the complaint, an undercover Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agent provided Azeez-Taiwo with information that should have resulted in a tax return showing more than $500 in tax due to be paid, but Azeez-Taiwo instead prepared a return claiming a refund of more than $500.
The suit contends that in January 2013, a grand jury indicted Azeez-Taiwo on 30 counts of willfully aiding and assisting in the preparation of false federal income tax returns for tax years 2006 through 2010. The complaint further alleges that Azeez-Taiwo was ultimately convicted on multiple counts and on March 6, 2014, was sentenced to serve 18 months in prison. This civil suit seeks to bar Azeez-Taiwo from ever preparing federal tax returns for others again.
The IRS estimates that Azeez-Taiwo has prepared more than 7,000 tax returns since 2006, the complaint alleges. The complaint further contends that the IRS has audited or examined over 250 returns prepared by Azeez-Taiwo and the total tax deficiency for those returns alone exceeds $773,000. According to the complaint, Azeez-Taiwo’s conduct could have caused more than $773,000 in harm to the U.S. Treasury.
Return preparer fraud is one of the IRS’ Dirty Dozen Tax Scams for 2015. The IRS has some tips on its 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’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.