Recently it was announced that a complaint had been filed against Craig Comer in federal court after it was discovered that employees at his tax businesses in Detroit had prepared fraudulent tax returns. Now, the U.S. Justice Department wants to shut down five Liberty Tax offices in the Detroit area owned by Comer, saying that returns filed by the franchise cost the U.S. Treasury approximately $4.5 million between the years of 2008 and 2013.
Among other things, employees at the Liberty Tax locations used bogus dependents to claim credits, overstated expenses, and included other false itemized deductions. The complaint against Comer and Liberty Tax also states that employees forged signatures on some of the customer returns, and altered some returns that customers had already signed.
In one case, a customer who used Liberty Tax was due a $5,000 refund, however he believed the money would be applied to child support he believed he owed. The IRS refunded the customer more than $5,000 in 2012, direct deposited in a bank listed on the return. However, it was discovered the customer did not have a bank account at the listed bank on the return, and never received the $5,000.
Allegations of tax fraud are extremely serious. Just as with other crimes, those found guilty of defrauding the federal government will face substantial punishment. Depending on the facts of each case and whether the accused goes to trial or pleads guilty, penalties may include a lengthy prison sentence, fines, restitution, and more. Those convicted will also have a criminal record.
Anyone who has been charged or is under investigation for tax fraud, embezzling, money laundering, or any white collar crime should consult with a qualified Michigan criminal defense attorney right away. It is vital to take action immediately in order to protect your legal rights, and minimize the damage to the greatest extent possible.