CHAROTTE — Each year, taxpayers’ personal information is compromised through phishing scams or by unscrupulous tax preparers. With tax season kicking off Jan. 24, IRS Criminal Investigation wants taxpayers to be aware of tax-related fraud.
“IRS-CI is the investigative arm of the IRS, and this tax season, we want to remind U.S. taxpayers about ways they can protect their wallets and personal information,” said IRS-CI Special Agent in Charge Donald “Trey” Eakins.
Tips to avoid tax season fraud include:
- Choose a tax preparer wisely. Look for a preparer who is available year-round. Check references, ask questions, find out the fees involved prior to engagement, ask for a printed copy prior to submission to the IRS and a common practice for a return preparer is to review the various sections of the return with you.
- Ask your tax preparer for their IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). All paid preparers are required to have one.
- Don’t use a ghost preparer. They won’t sign a tax return they prepare for you.
- Don’t fall victim to tax preparers’ promises of large refunds. Taxpayers must pay their fair share of taxes.
- Don’t sign a blank tax return. Taxpayers are ultimately responsible for what appears on tax returns filed with the IRS.
- Make sure you receive your refund. Your refund should be deposited into your bank account, not your tax preparer’s.
- The IRS will not call you threatening legal action. If you receive a call like this, hang up.
- Don’t respond to text messages, emails or social media posts claiming to be the IRS. They may contain malware that could compromise your personal information.
- Don’t click links or open attachments in unsolicited emails or text messages about your tax return. These messages are fraudulent.
- Protect your personal and financial information. Never provide this information in response to unsolicited text messages, emails or social media posts claiming to be the IRS.
Eakins advises that, “As we approach tax filing season, those who might consider preparing false tax returns should be aware of the consequences as evidenced in recent cases in the Charlotte Field Office of convicted tax return preparers and their co-conspirators,” as the following examples of prosecuted cases show.
Charlotte FO: Third Defendant Sentenced in Tax Preparation Conspiracy
On Oct. 29, 2021 Andrea Pasley was sentenced to 20 months imprisonment followed by a three-year term of supervised release. Pasley was ordered to pay the IRS $1,264,493 in restitution. Pasley conspired with Karen Jones and Audrey Odom to defraud the U.S. Government by preparing false tax returns. The false tax returns claimed false education credits and false dependents and manipulated income to qualify for large amounts of earned income tax credits. Pasley, Jones and Odom charged clients up to $3,000 to prepare the false tax returns. Jones and Odom were previously sentenced to 22 months and 15 months, respectively.
Charlotte FO: North Carolina Tax Return Preparer Sentenced for Tax Fraud
On Dec. 17, 2019, Garvey Imhotep was sentenced to 45 months in prison, three years supervised released and ordered to pay $2,144,888 in restitution to the IRS. From 2011 through 2014, Garvey Imhotep conspired with others to file false tax returns for clients of several tax return preparation businesses, including Tax Kings, Two Brothers Tax Service, and Taxes Done Right. Imhotep and his co-conspirators filed returns claiming false education expenses and other fraudulent items in order to increase clients’ tax refunds. To conceal his involvement and evade Internal Revenue Service detection, Imhotep used tax preparer identification numbers that are assigned to other individuals. Imhotep’s conduct caused a tax loss of more than $1.5 million to the United States.
For more tips on choosing a tax professional or how to file a complaint against one, visit IRS.gov. Taxpayers who suspect tax violations by a person or business, may report it to the IRS using Form 3949A, Information Referral. Taxpayers can report phishing emails to firstname.lastname@example.org or IRS impersonation scams to TIGTA.gov.
This year’s tax season begins Monday, Jan. 24 and continues through Monday, April 18 for most taxpayers. U.S. taxpayers are subject to tax on worldwide income from all sources and must report all taxable income and pay taxes according to the Internal Revenue Code. Taxpayers found to be committing fraud may be subject to penalties including payment of taxes owed plus interest, fines, and jail time.
IRS-CI is the criminal investigative arm of the IRS, responsible for conducting financial crime investigations, including tax fraud, narcotics trafficking, money-laundering, public corruption, healthcare fraud, identity theft and more. IRS-CI special agents are the only federal law enforcement agents with investigative jurisdiction over violations of the Internal Revenue Code, boasting a nearly 90 percent federal conviction rate. The agency has 20 field offices located across the U.S. and 11 attaché posts abroad.