Justice Department Seeks to Shut Down Fraudulent Chicago-Area Tax Return Preparer

The United States has filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, seeking to enjoin a tax preparer from South Chicago Heights, Illinois, from preparing federal income tax returns for others.

The civil complaint filed against Leannette Scott alleges that she prepares federal income tax returns on which she reports false sole-proprietorship business expenses and education credits. According to the complaint, the IRS interviewed 21 of Scott’s customers, 17 of whom allegedly stated that Scott included incorrect and false information on their 2018 income tax returns. The complaint alleges that the IRS determined that the returns of these 17 customers reflect an actual tax loss to the United States of $39,287.

The complaint further alleges that Scott prepared at least 562 income tax returns from 2016 to 2020, for tax years 2015 through 2019. According to the complaint, Scott’s fraudulent tax preparation activities have caused the United States to lose substantial tax revenue, undermined public confidence in the administration of the federal tax system, and caused harm to her customers by exposing them to statutory penalties for substantially underreporting and underpaying their tax liabilities.

Acting Assistant Attorney General David A. Hubbert of the Justice Department’s Tax Division made the announcement.

Return preparer fraud is one of the IRS’ Dirty Dozen Tax Scams and taxpayers seeking a return preparer should remain vigilant. (More information can also be found here.) The IRS has information on its website for choosing a tax preparer, has launched a free directory of federal tax preparers, and offers information on how to avoid “ghost” tax preparers, whose refusal to sign a return should be a red flag to taxpayers.  The IRS also has a list of important reminders for taxpayers who are about to file their 2020 tax returns, including how to prepare for a smooth filing process.

In addition, IRS Free File, a public-private partnership, offers free online tax preparation and filing options on IRS partner websites for individuals whose adjusted gross income is under $72,000. For individuals whose income is over that threshold, IRS Free File offers electronic federal tax forms that can be filled out and filed online for free.

In the past decade, the Tax Division has obtained injunctions against hundreds of unscrupulous tax preparers. Information about these cases is available on the Justice Department’s website. An alphabetical listing of persons enjoined from preparing returns and promoting tax schemes can be found this page. If you believe that one of the enjoined persons or businesses may be violating an injunction, please contact the Tax Division with details.

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