According to a Department of Justice press release, a tax preparer from Maryland recently pleaded guilty to charges relating to aiding and assisting in the filing of knowingly false tax returns, in addition to aggravated identity theft. The charges result from a scheme aimed at using stolen identities to obtain fraudulent tax refunds. This story reminds us that as we approach tax season, taxpayers are frequently in search of those who can save them money on their tax bill. Among those professionals available, there are actual licensed and experienced tax practitioners who will work with you to legally reduce your tax liability, and there are those who are fly-by-night scammers who will simply manipulate the numbers or partake in more drastic and illegal approaches to decrease tax liability.
Court documents reveal that Maria Espinal, was the owner and operator of a business aimed at preparing and filing tax returns for clients in Gaithersburg, Maryland. In the years between 2011 and 2017, prosecutors alleged that Espinal engaged in the preparation and filing of fraudulent tax returns on behalf of her customers that included refund claims that the taxpayers were simply not entitled to.
IRS and state investigations revealed that in Espinal acquired stolen identities, including social security numbers, and other identifying information and used such data in furtherance of her efforts to generate fraudulent refunds. Espinal altered legitimate W-2’s of third parties and swapped the names of the actual W-2 recipient with her clients names, resulting in the appearance that her clients were due refunds due to tax withholding that weren’t factually accurate. Espinal transmitted these returns to both the IRS and the State of Maryland.
Sentencing has been scheduled for April of 2020. Espinal faces up to two years in prison for the count related to identity theft and up to three years in prison for assisting in the preparation of a false tax return. In addition to her physical incarceration, Espinal will also likely be ordered to serve a term of supervised release and be ordered to pay restitution to the IRS and the State of Maryland.
Reiterating the sentiment above, it is important to know the difference between using legal tax planning strategies to lower your tax liability and engaging in other fraudulent methods to get a tax refund or just illegally reduce what you wind up paying. An experienced tax attorney will be able to explain his or her strategy to you and educate you about ways that you can legally lower your tax liability in the future. Taxpayers should be wary of tax preparers who are offering to produce a large refund or drastically reduce what you ordinarily pay without being able to articulate the legal support for it. Additionally, an experienced tax practitioner will also be able to defend your return in the event the IRS or state taxing authority chooses it for examination.
The tax and accounting professionals at the Tax Law Offices of David W. Klasing have extensive experience representing a diverse group of taxpayers. From individuals to middle market businesses and beyond, our team of zealous advocates will assist in the development of a strategy to help you reach your specific goals and objectives. Whether you are under a tax examination or are in need of tax planning advice, contact the Tax Law Offices of David W. Klasing today, online or by phone at (800) 681-1295, for a reduced-rate consultation.
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