Tax “Professionals” Behaving Badly

A couple of news pieces out of the Department of Justice this week highlighted two tax “professionals” who apparently behaved badly. Let’s start with an alleged violator out of Plantation, Florida. Keisha Stewart owns Professional Tax Services Inc., but her methods allegedly were anything but professional. Her customers were satisfied, and why not: They apparently received $1.6 million in tax refunds they weren’t entitled to.

Ms. Stewart wanted her clients to get tax credits. There’s nothing wrong with that, but there is a mandatory factor: You have to be eligible for the credits. The American Opportunity Credit (a refundable education credit) requires that you (or a dependent) be an undergraduate at a college or university; residential energy credits (another refundable credit) require that you make energy upgrades to your residence. That minor detail apparently escaped Ms. Stewart according to the DOJ. The DOJ asked for a permanent injunction against Ms. Stewart to bar her from preparing federal tax returns for others.

Meanwhile, a Natchitoches, Louisiana tax preparer will enjoy ClubFed for 18 months. In what will sound familiar, Lashanda Harris used a similar strategy to that Ms. Stewart allegedly did: Phony W-2s, withholdings, and credits. “As part of the scheme, Harris received ‘kickbacks’ from the customers.” Ms. Harris pleaded guilty last October.

I do agree completely with a suggestion made by the DOJ in the press release on Ms. Harris:

Keep your personal information safe by:

  • shredding personal information before trashing it;
  • being aware of imposters who send phony emails that look like they’re from the IRS asking for personal information; and
  • limiting the personal information given to the public and businesses.

That’s excellent advice.


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