Former Des Moines Tax Preparer Charged with Tax Fraud
DES MOINES, IA – On November 21, 2016, Lony Tap Gatwas, 47, of Ames, Iowa, was charged in an 18-count indictment with preparing and presenting false tax returns, wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft, announced United States Attorney Kevin E. VanderSchel.
According to the indictment, from on or about February 2011, through at least March 2013, Gatwas operated a tax preparation business in Des Moines and prepared and filed federal personal income tax returns on behalf of taxpayers. Gatwas devised a scheme to defraud by claiming dependents on taxpayers’ returns when he knew the dependents did not meet IRS requirements, such as living with the taxpayers for a certain length of time out of the year, and being supported financially by the taxpayer. Gatwas charged taxpayers an additional fee for each dependent he put on their return.
Gatwas has a trial date of January 30, 2017, before United States District Court Judge Rebecca Goodgame Ebinger, at the Des Moines Federal Courthouse. Preparing and presenting a false tax return is punishable by a maximum of three years imprisonment and a maximum $100,000 fine. The crime of wire fraud has a maximum prison term of 20 years, and up to a $250,000 fine. Gatwas faces a minimum prison term of two years and up to a $250,000 fine for the crime of aggravated identity theft.
An indictment is only an accusation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
This matter was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division. The case is being prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Iowa.