Tax Return Preparers Convicted At Trial On Conspiracy And Tax Offenses
FORT WORTH, Texas — Two Fort Worth, Texas, tax preparers were convicted at trial on all 34 counts of a superseding indictment charging conspiracy and other tax offenses, announced U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña of the Northern District of Texas.
According to evidence presented at trial, Ramona C. Johnson managed/operated a tax preparation business in Fort Worth that was known, among other names, as Tax Office One. Johnson’s daughter-in-law, Nekia N. Everson, was a return preparer for the business.
Johnson and Everson were each convicted on Wednesday on one count of conspiracy to aid and assist in the preparation and presentation of a false tax return. Johnson was also convicted on 26 counts of aiding and assisting in the preparation of a false tax return and two counts of filing false tax returns. Everson was also convicted on five counts of aiding and assisting in the preparation and presentation of a false tax return.
The government presented evidence that Johnson and Everson, and those working with them, prepared and filed false and fraudulent tax returns that included various false and fraudulent schedules, deductions, exemptions, and credits with the goal of reducing the amount of taxes owed by the taxpayers and obtaining larger refunds for the taxpayers than they were entitled to receive. As a result of the larger refunds, Johnson and Everson were able to charge higher fees for preparing returns, build client loyalty, and increase business through client referrals.
In some instances, Johnson and Everson, and those working with them, created false and fraudulent Schedule C (reporting business losses/profits) and Schedule A (reporting itemized deductions) forms to accompany the taxpayer’s Form 1040. The taxpayers would often be asked about their personal expenses, such as those incurred commuting to and from work, cell phone, automobile, clothes, etc., and then the information would be fraudulently listed on the Schedule C as business expenses or unreimbursed employee expenses on Schedule A. On some returns, Johnson and Everson would completely fabricate a Schedule C business, including income and expense items. For some taxpayers, Johnson would create a false and fraudulent Schedule C reflecting the taxpayers had a profit from a nonexistent business. This false profit, together with claimed dependents (both fraudulent and actual), would be used to claim the taxpayer was entitled to an earned income tax credit.
In other instances, according to evidence presented at trial, Johnson and those working with her would include false dependent exemptions on tax returns for some clients. Johnson, or someone working with her, would acquire various personal identities, the names and social security numbers of individuals with no connection to the taxpayer to use as false dependents on tax returns prepared for clients. When included on the tax return, the false dependents would increase the number of exemptions, increase the deduction for exemptions, and often, entitle the taxpayer to an earned income tax credit..
In addition, the government presented evidence that for calendar years 2009 and 2010, Johnson filed tax returns in which she reported total income of $2,850 and $16,906, respectively, when she well knew that the income amount was understated in that it did not include income she received for her work preparing tax returns.
Between January 2008 and October 2011, according to evidence presented at trial, Johnson’s tax preparation business collected more than $1.9 million in tax preparation fees from clients.
The conspiracy count carries a maximum statutory penalty of five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. Each of the remaining counts carries a maximum statutory penalty of three years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. In addition, restitution could be ordered. Both Johnson and Everson will remain on bond pending sentencing, which is set for March 6, 2015, before U.S. District Judge John McBryde.
The investigation was conducted by IRS Criminal Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mark Nichols and Chris Wolfe are prosecuting.