Justice Department Seeks to Stop Florida Tax Return Preparer from Preparing Federal Tax Returns
Preparer Allegedly Claims False Earned Income Tax and Education Credits for His Customers
A Broward County, Florida tax return preparer, Billy Philippe, unlawfully understates his customers’ income tax liabilities and overstates refunds by making deliberate misstatements on the tax returns, according to a new civil lawsuit filed by the Justice Department today. The suit, filed in federal court in Fort Lauderdale, asks the court to permanently bar Philippe from preparing federal tax returns for others. The suit also asks the court to order Philippe to turn over a list of all the tax returns he has prepared since Jan. 1, 2012.
The complaint alleges that Philippe, the majority owner of Advantage Tax Center Plus Inc., prepares federal income tax returns for customers that fraudulently overstate the amount of the refunds due by falsely claiming refundable credits, including the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and credits for education expenses. The complaint further alleges that Philippe frequently claims fraudulently inflated wages or self-employment income in order to maximize the amount of EITC a customer claims. The IRS previously penalized Philippe over $24,000 for failure to exercise the due diligence required to claim the EITC for his customers and the failure to properly identify himself as the paid return preparer, according to the complaint.
From 2011 to 2015, Philippe prepared at least 899 returns, according to the complaint. The complaint alleges that audits of 44 returns prepared by Philippe in 2014 and 2015 revealed that he claimed credits his customers were not entitled to take and/or understated their correct tax liability by more than $300,000 in the aggregate.
The IRS is reminding taxpayers that the 2017 individual income tax return filing season begins today, Jan. 23, 2017, and there is information available on the IRS’s website. Return preparer fraud was one of the IRS’s Dirty Dozen Tax Scams for 2016 and taxpayers seeking a return preparer should remain vigilant. 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’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.