Justice Department Asks Federal Court to Shut Down South Florida Tax Return Preparer
A Broward County, Florida, man prepares fraudulent tax returns and should be barred from preparing federal tax returns for others, according to a civil complaint filed by the Justice Department today.
The civil complaint against Eli St. Phard was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. The complaint alleges that St. Phard prepares income tax returns that fraudulently understate his customers’ tax liabilities by falsely claiming deductions for business expenses his customers never incurred, fraudulently overstating his customers’ claims for refunds by falsely claiming education or fuel tax credits to which his customers are not entitled, or both. According to the complaint, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) audited 340 of the more than 3,132 returns St. Phard prepared since 2009 and found that St. Phard understated the tax owed on all but five of the 340 returns—a total of more than $1.8 million in understatements. As a result of St. Phard’s fraudulent activities, many of his customers are now liable for significant tax deficiencies, penalties and interest, the complaint alleges.
Return preparer fraud is one of the IRS’s Dirty Dozen Tax Scams for 2016. 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 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.