Justice Department Seeks to Shut Down Five South Florida Tax Return Preparers
Lawsuit Accuses Preparers of Stealing Identities to Obtain Illegal Tax Refunds
The United States has sued to shut down five Florida tax return preparers, the Justice Department announced today. In the civil injunction complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., the government alleges that since at least 2008, Jayvon Copeland, Kisha Andrews, James Daniels, Aundrea Luc and Brandon Johnson have knowingly understated their customers’ federal income tax liabilities and claimed improper tax refunds. The complaint states that the defendants reside in Broward and Miami-Dade County, Fla.
According to the complaint, the defendants fraudulently boosted tax refunds through false claims for the first-time-homebuyer tax credit, phony business expenses, false education expenses and fabricated income or withholdings that inflate a customer’s earned income tax credit. The lawsuit alleges that the defendants inflated customers’ tax refunds in order to extract exorbitant fees from the refunds.
The complaint also alleges that the defendants used stolen identities to prepare and file tax returns claiming fraudulent tax refunds, which the defendants kept. The complaint describes one instance involving a tax return prepared in the name of a man serving a life sentence in prison. According to the complaint, the return claimed a refund based on bogus education expenses and a fraudulent first-time-homebuyer credit. The prisoner allegedly did not know that a tax return was filed in his name.
The lawsuit also accuses the defendants of attempting to conceal their fraud by jumbling or falsifying various identification numbers that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requires tax return preparers to disclose on the returns they prepare. The defendants also allegedly established and operated a web of tax-preparation entities to perpetrate this fraud.
Claiming bogus tax refunds is one of the IRS’s “Dirty Dozen” tax scams for 2012. In the past decade, the Justice Department’s Tax Division has obtained injunctions against hundreds of tax-fraud promoters and unscrupulous tax return preparers. Information about these cases is available at www.justice.gov/tax/taxpress2012.htm .
United States v. Jayvon Copeland, et al. Complaint for Permanent Injunction and Other Relief (PDF)