Vancouver, Washington, Tax Return Preparer Pleads Guilty to Assisting in Filing False Tax Documents
Defendant Falsified Deductions and Credits so She Could Claim a Share of Larger Tax Refund
A Camas, Washington, tax preparer, who now lives in Vancouver, Washington, pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to assisting in filing false tax documents, announced U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. PAULA ODIA, 43, prepared more than 50 fraudulent tax returns, resulting in a tax loss to the U.S. that the government estimates is between $250,000 and $550,000. Most of ODIA’s clients were unaware she had falsified their tax returns or that she directed a portion of their tax refund to her bank account or to accounts belonging to members of her family. U.S. District Judge Robert J. Bryan scheduled sentencing for January 5, 2018.
According to records filed in the case, between 2011 and 2016, ODIA prepared federal income taxes for customers from her Camas home. Clients would bring ODIA their records, and she would prepare and file their taxes. In 2011, ODIA began claiming illegitimate deductions and credits in her clients’ tax returns. These false deductions and credits reduced the clients’ tax obligations and increased the tax refund. ODIA then diverted a portion of that refund to bank accounts that she or members of her family controlled. When ODIA provided copies of the tax returns to clients, these copies did not reflect what ODIA actually filed with the IRS so that the clients would not see that some of the refund had been directed to ODIA’s accounts.
Assisting in filing false tax documents is punishable by up to three years in prison, one year of supervised release, and a $100,000 fine. As part of her plea agreement, ODIA has agreed to pay restitution to the U.S. for the tax loss determined by the court.
The case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI).