Tampa Tax Fraud!
By: Leon Castles
on Friday, April 06, 2012
Image: Arvind Balaraman
do you know your tax preparer?
resident, Joel Easterling, found out that choosing a tax preparer from a
billboard may not be the best plan. Easterling stated that he thought he was
"going to a professional" when he took his taxes to LBS on North
Nebraska Avenue. Unfortunately, he did not get his expected $6,500 tax refund.
Instead, the company handed over a check for just $700.
the smaller than expected refund, Easterling is also being audited by the IRS,
which claims that he may owes a few thousand dollars in taxes and penalties.
went wrong with this seemingly routine tax preparation?
all, Easterling's return listed his girlfriend's children as his step-children.
According to the IRS, Easterling is unable to prove that he supported the
children during 2011. This situation spurred ABC Action News sent a retired tax
preparer to investigate.
"undercover" tax customer visited four different LBS offices in the
area in order to get a quote for his yet unprepared taxes. This volunteer
claimed that the tax preparer advised him to used illegal tax deductions, such
as personal meals and automobile expenses. To top everything, LBS was also
going to charge the volunteer $460 in tax preparation fees.
the volunteer did not fall for this scheme, mostly because he knew it was a
scam from the start. Unfortunately for Joel Easterling, however, he is still
liable for the fraudulent tax preparation, since the IRS holds the tax payers -
not the tax preparers - responsible for inaccurate returns.
learned here, folks, is to choose your tax preparer wisely. Don't just use any
company that offers the highest refund, and keep in mind if your return seems
too good to be true, it probably is.