In November, a federal grand jury sitting in Waco, TX charged two Texas women operating a tax preparation business with conspiracy to defraud the United States, aiding and assisting in the preparation of false tax returns, and filing false personal income tax returns. According to the indictment, Stacey Anderson, assisted by Janell Lightner, operated a Texas-based tax preparation business called Anderson Professional Tax Services. However, the business did not have a storefront or office and typically prepared and filed tax returns from Anderson’s home. The indictment goes on to allege Anderson and Lightner conspired to defraud the U.S. government and prepared clients’ tax returns, for years 2013 through 2017, with falsely claimed business losses, deductions, and/or education credits to fraudulently increase their tax refunds.
Anderson was also charged alone with filing false 2013 and 2014 tax returns for herself. She allegedly sought the same education credit she falsely claimed on her clients’ tax returns and failed to report income she earned from her tax preparation business.
What does tax preparer fraud mean for the taxpayers?
Anderson’s and Lightner’s clients were from Texas, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. and could face tax fraud charges as well. Before 2001, courts generally declined to extend tax preparer intent to prepare and file false tax returns to taxpayer intent to commit tax fraud. But on March 30, 2001, the IRS changed tack with a decision concluding that the fraudulent intent of the tax preparer may be used to keep the statute of limitations open on the taxpayer’s return in order to investigate taxpayer fraud. Tax courts have since backed up this ruling, allowing the IRS to extend the statute of limitations on tax assessments based on tax preparer fraud.
Taxpayers are primarily responsible for any errors on tax returns, which means clients of Anderson Professional Tax Services will be required to pay the IRS any taxes they still owe as the result of Anderson’s fraud. Also, they’ll likely have to pay back the tax refund amounts they weren’t entitled to receive. And, if the IRS hasn’t already started investigating Anderson’s clients for intent to commit tax fraud themselves, they may do so now.
Talk to an experienced Texas tax defense lawyer before you talk to the IRS
If you’re facing a tax assessment, audit, or any other action by the IRS, talk to an experienced Dallas tax defense attorney, so you understand your rights and options moving forward. In northeast Texas, contact Scammahorn Law Firm P.C. for a confidential consultation, either in person or by phone. With offices in Tyler and Dallas, we’re here to help Texas taxpayers avoid the most severe IRS charges and penalties.