False tax returns are a hot button item for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The number eight case on the top ten list of 2021 tax crime proffered by IRS-CI showcases two sisters with serious dedication to preparing fraudulent tax returns.
In pursuing ill-gotten tax refunds, Petra Gomez and her sister, Jakeline Lumusco, employed a very old scam. They prepared fake tax returns, submitted them to the IRS, and then sat back and waited for the refunds to roll in. Fraud involving tax preparers in the U.S. is common and the IRS focuses on individuals like Ms. Gomez and Ms. Lumusco who take advantage of unaware taxpayers as well as the IRS.
For this pair, the idea of submitting just a few fake tax returns was not going to provide the preferred payday. Instead, the sisters submitted more than 16,000 false tax returns. In order to avert suspicion, Ms. Lumusco and Ms. Gomez created five separate tax preparer companies under their own names, and the names of others. The companies served as a front for their tax return mill.
Tax fraud around income tax returns is relatively easy. A tax preparer can falsify a myriad of metrics on an individual or corporate tax return, including underreporting income, creating false deductions, and overstating deductions, among others. Sometimes the client is aware of the fraud, other times they simply sign as directed, pay the tax preparation fee, and leave believing all is well.
In this case, the IRS tax investigation found the sisters created falsified income tax returns over four years, between January 2012 and June 2016. Overall, their work netted $25 million in inappropriate tax returns.
Ms. Gomez falsified her own income tax returns, creating additional tax liability. While the income earned by Ms. Gomez in 2014 was $1,110,508, she declared only $213,434.
Because it is difficult to walk away from a cash cow, most tax fraudsters, like Ms. Gomez and Ms. Lumusco, do not stop until charges are brought against them. There are usually brief protests of innocence followed by quiet and determined work by criminal tax defense counsel to find a preferential plea deal. The longer a serious grift goes on, the less likely a defendant is to avoid prison time. Ms. Gomez and Ms. Lumusco were sentenced to eight and four years in a federal penitentiary, respectively.
Fake income tax returns can turn a quick buck. They are also prime evidence in a case against the individual who prepared them. If you have received a letter from the IRS or believe you are under investigation, speak with a reputable criminal tax defense attorney as soon as possible.
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