Now that tax season is in full swing, the Department of Justice reminds taxpayers to choose tax preparers carefully.
The Justice Department’s Tax Division, in collaboration with U.S. Attorney’s Offices, takes legal action throughout the United States, including seeking court orders to shut down tax return preparers who prepared false tax returns, and criminally prosecuting fraudulent tax return preparers to punish dishonest tax return preparers for their fraudulent activities and to protect taxpayers and government funds.
“Most tax return preparers provide competent and professional advice,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman. “For those tax return preparers who choose to engage in fraudulent tax return preparation the Justice Department is steadfast in its commitment to ending such tax fraud. Criminal prosecutions and civil injunction actions against dishonest tax return preparers should serve as a strong message to fraudulent tax return preparers that criminal and fraudulent conduct has serious and permanent consequences.”
During this tax season, examples of some of the criminal convictions obtained by the Tax Division include:
- On March 7, 2019, a Miami, Florida, Certified Public Accountant (CPA) was sentenced to 39 months in prison for tax evasion. Darryl Sharpton willfully evaded the payment of federal income taxes for the tax years 2004 through 2008 and 2010. He was ordered to pay $1,380,602 in restitution to the IRS.
- On March 20, 2019, a Charlotte, North Carolina, tax return preparer was sentenced to 24 months in prison for preparing income tax returns for clients that claimed false deductions and fictitious businesses in order to obtain the Earned Income Credit. Shawanda Elmore prepared approximately 500 fraudulent tax returns.
- On March 4, 2019, a federal jury convicted a New York owner of a tax return preparation business for conspiring to commit aggravated identity theft and aiding and assisting in the preparation of false tax returns. Afolabi Ajelero used the identity of others to accomplish the scheme. His co-defendant, Hakeem Bamgbala, also has been convicted and awaits sentencing on wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and aiding and assisting in the preparation of a false tax return charges.
- On Feb. 8, 2019, a Hattiesburg, Mississippi, CPA was convicted of conspiracy to defraud the United States, aiding in the preparation of false tax returns and filing false tax returns. Carl Nicholson was also found guilty of filing his own false personal income tax returns for 2012 through 2015. He faces sentencing on May 23, 2019.
Examples of some of this tax season’s civil injunctions obtained by the Tax Division include:
- On March 29, 2019, a federal court in Dallas, Texas, permanently enjoined Jhane Broadway, individually and doing business as Jeprofessionalz or MaxTaxPros, from preparing federal income tax returns for others. Broadway was required to mail or e-mail notice of the injunction order to all customers for whom she prepared a federal tax return or claim for refund for tax years 2015 through 2017.
- Also on March 29, 2019, a federal court in Beaumont, Texas, entered a permanent injunction against tax return preparer Sylvia Rodriguez, who is also known as Sylvia Ornelas, barring her from preparing federal tax returns for others and owning or operating a tax preparation business. The court found that Rodriguez engaged in fraudulent and deceptive conduct that substantially interfered with the administration of the tax laws.
- On March 27, 2019, a federal court in Miami, Florida, entered a permanent injunction barring Vilbrun Simon, Saintanise Agenord, Simon Accounting & Tax Services LLC, and Village Tax Multi Services from preparing federal income tax returns for others. The group is prohibited from operating, managing, or participating in any business, which prepares tax returns.
In the past decade, the Tax Division has obtained convictions and injunctions against hundreds of unscrupulous return preparers. Information about these cases is available on the Justice Department’s website. If you believe that one of the enjoined persons or businesses may be violating an injunction, please contact the Tax Division with details.
The Justice Department reminds taxpayers that they could still be responsible for any unpaid taxes, penalties, and interest, resulting from errors made on their returns.
Tax return preparer fraud is one of the IRS’s Dirty Dozen Tax Scams and taxpayers seeking a return preparer should remain vigilant. The IRS has information on its website about selecting a return preparer and has launched a free directory of federal tax preparers.