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Tax Preparer Sentenced to 2 ½ Years in Prison

A Durham, North Carolina woman is in hot water after being convicted and sentenced on charges that she falsified hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of tax returns in what seems to be an elaborate scheme that took place while she worked for a tax preparation business.

Tasha Renee Smith has been ordered to pay the Internal Revenue Service $375,578 in restitution and serve 2 ½ years in prison on a charge of conspiracy to defraud the IRS.

Prosecutors claim that "falsification was rampant" in Smith's tax preparation businesses where she also committed identify fraud. Cases of Smith's fraud date back to as early as 2005 while she worked for Nothing But Taxes.

Smith went out of her way to find and buy locals' names, dates of birth and Social Security numbers so she could falsely list them as dependents on tax returns. She would then charge extra for each dependent listed. Nothing But Taxes was stripped of its electronic-filing rights in 2012. At least eight others associated with the company have been charged.

Smith then went on to create Tax Wizards with two partners. The Department of Justice reported Smith tried to keep a low profile at Tax Wizards, only encouraging fraud in the amount of $1,200 to $1,500 in an attempt to keep the IRS away. Smith also had a hand in founding two other tax return businesses in Durham, Burlington, Roxboro and Kinston, all of which participated in fraudulent returns, according to the DOJ.

Source: Kenney, Andrew, "Durham tax preparer sentenced for fraud conspiracy," News Observer, July 31st, 2014

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