Tax return preparers may enter the profession for many reasons. Some enjoy the math and the puzzle that can come with filling out tax forms, others enjoy working with people to help them get the most of their tax returns. Although there are many legal ways to reduce one’s tax obligation, tax return preparers need to tread carefully to avoid crossing the line. A failure to abide by the rules and file truthful returns can result in allegations of criminal wrongdoing.
Unfortunately, such allegations are not uncommon. In a recent case, the government has claimed two tax return professionals who worked together changed information on tax returns in an effort to help their clients evade their tax obligations.
Government program flags business, IRS investigates
The investigation was initiated after the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) flagged the returns prepared by their organization as suspicious. The program is set to flag any tax return professional who has a return with a refund rate of over 50%. In this case, the organization had refund rates ranging from 72% to 86% during the years in question.
Upon review of this information, the IRS chose to send in a field agent. The field agent provided documents that should have resulted in a tax bill. However, the agency states the tax return professionals encouraged the agent to claim a charity donation to offset the bill and lead to a refund.
After questioning, the return professionals stated they were simply trying to help their clients.
Evidence leads to charges, conviction could result in prison time
The allegations are serious. If convicted, the conspiracy charges alone carry a prison sentence of up to five years along with a $250,000 fine. Tax return professionals can learn from this case and take notice of an investigation seriously. You can seek legal counsel. An attorney will represent your interests and better ensure your rights are protected throughout the process.