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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Justice Department Sues to Stop Chicago-Area Woman and Her Businesses from Preparing Tax Returns

Tax Services Provider Allegedly Prepared Fraudulent Amended and Original Returns in Chicago-Area Hotel Rooms

The United States filed a complaint in federal court in Chicago to bar Laurie G. Helfer, aka Laurie G. Powell, individually and through her businesses Laurie’s Freelance & Tax Preparation Services and Tax Lady Laurie Inc., from preparing federal tax returns for others, the Justice Department announced today.

The complaint alleges that Helfer prepares and files amended tax returns for individuals claiming refunds that they are not legally entitled to receive. According to the complaint, Helfer has prepared hundreds of amended tax returns for customers in the Chicago area and the tax loss to the U.S. Treasury as a result of her fraudulent conduct could exceed $3 million.

According to the civil injunction complaint, Helfer promises her customers that she can obtain tax refunds for them by amending their tax returns from prior years. To do this, Helfer allegedly fabricates expenses from businesses that do not exist and enters those expenses on a Schedule C-Profit or Loss From Business that she files with her customers’ amended tax returns. The complaint alleges that the expenses offset her customers’ income from prior years and illegally generates a refund. The complaint further alleges that Helfer also prepares original returns for customers during tax-filing season using this same scheme to generate a refund. In an attempt to avoid detection by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Helfer stopped signing the tax returns that she prepares and also frequently changes the locations in which she prepares customers’ tax returns, including various Chicago-area hotel rooms, the complaint alleges.

Return preparer fraud is one of the IRS' Dirty Dozen Tax Scams for 2014 . The IRS has some tips on their website for choosing a tax preparer. In the past decade, the department’s Tax Division has obtained injunctions against hundreds of unscrupulous tax preparers. Information about these cases is available on the 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.

Related Materials:

United States v. Laurie G. Helfer, etc. et al.
Complaint for Permanent Injunction and Other Relief

Press Release Number: 
Updated July 7, 2016