Recently, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade and Special Agent in Charge, IRS – Criminal Investigation Jarod J. Koopman announced that a Pontiac woman, Amey Renee Tipton, was sentenced to 33 months in prison for her involvement in a scheme to file fraudulent tax returns and identity fraud.
Tipton, a Pontiac tax preparer, pleaded guilty to four of 38 initial counts of fraud for her connection to a tax fraud scheme that netted more than $180,000. Between 2009 and 2011, Tipton received payment to file tax claims for 37 individuals, including false information in the returns and taking tax credits the customers were not eligible for. Fraudulent information included on the returns included student loan interest deductions, child care credits, earned income and wages, and more. According to the indictment, the clients who used Tipton to file their returns did not ask her to include fraudulent information in their tax returns.
In preparing the tax returns, Tipton added fraudulent dependents by using the identifying information of others, thereby committing identity theft. The fraudulent tax returns resulted in refunds ranging between $800 and $8,000, with a total loss to the IRS of $180,977.
In addition to 33 months in prison, Tipton may face fines of between $6,000 and $60,000; she has agreed to pay restitution of $180,977 to the Internal Revenue Service.
Jarod J. Koopman, Special Agent in Charge, IRS-Criminal Investigation said in the press release that taxpayers should be vigilant in reviewing their tax returns when prepared by others, making sure the information is accurate and asking questions when any information being reported to the IRS is unclear. Koopman went on to say that identity theft is a top priority for the IRS-Criminal Investigation unit.
Tax fraud, identity theft, and other white collar crimes leave those found guilty facing serious criminal penalties. Even in instances where the defendant pleads guilty, there are still consequences although they are typically less serious than if the defendant pleads not guilty and is convicted at trial.
Every situation is different. Anyone who has been charged with tax fraud, identity theft, or other offense involving financial matters such as embezzling or money laundering should consult with a competent and experienced Michigan white collar crimes attorney.