On Monday, February 9 it was announced in a press release issued by U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade that Richard Alan Williams, owner and operator of Imperial Tax Service in Jackson, had been found guilty on 20 counts of filing false tax returns. IRS Criminal Investigations Special Agents investigated the case, including Special Agent in Charge Jarod Coopman, who stated in the press release that, “IRS Criminal Investigation focuses on protecting revenue by identifying, investigating and prosecuting abusive return preparers. This case accentuates the importance for taxpayers to carefully select a tax return preparer.”
According to the release, Williams was convicted of 17 counts of assisting in the preparation and filing of fraudulent tax returns for clients, and three counts of subscribing and filing fraudulent personal income tax returns of his own. The charges were related to filing of fraudulent tax returns for these customers for tax years including 2004, 2006, and 2007. Essentially, false business losses and expenses were claimed on these returns, which resulted in the taxpayers’ refunds being greater than the customers were entitled to. In some cases, phony business income was added to the returns so that customers could claim an increased Earned Income Credit.
While Williams collected substantial fees for the preparation of client tax returns in 2004, 2006, and 2007, he claimed that his own income was $1, $2, and $10 for those years respectively. Some of the customers who had Williams prepare their taxes testified at trial that they were not aware of the fraudulent income, expenses, or other items he had included in their tax returns, although some of the taxpayers have been ordered by the IRS to repay excess refunds after being audited.
Williams is scheduled to be sentenced on June 5. Possible penalties for the crimes he has been found guilty of committing include a fine of up to $250,000, a maximum of three years in prison for each offense conviction, and one year of supervised release upon his release from prison.
White collar crimes typically do not involve violence and are generally finance related, however the criminal penalties for those convicted of tax fraud, embezzling, money laundering, and other similar crimes are extremely harsh. In addition to prison time and fines, those found guilty often experience damage to their reputation and careers as well.
If you have been arrested or charged with tax fraud or any similar offense, consult with a highly skilled and experienced Michigan white collar crimes defense attorney immediately. Action must be taken to minimize the damage, protect your legal rights, and avoid criminal penalties when possible.