COLUMBUS, Ohio – A Georgia woman who used to live in Columbus, Ohio, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court today to filing at least 51 false or fraudulent tax returns for 19 clients in Ohio and Georgia between 2013 and 2019.
Tiffany Gravely, 47, of Powder Springs, Georgia, pleaded guilty to one count of assisting in the preparation and filing of a false or fraudulent income tax return. She faces up to three years in prison, fines and must pay $257,609 in restitution. Court documents say she prepared and filed income tax returns containing deductions for businesses that did not exist, claimed false business expenses that did not occur and claimed fictitious expenses including charitable deductions.
“This case reminds taxpayers that, during this tax filing season, they should be careful when choosing a tax preparer,” said Vipal J. Patel, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio. “Tax fraud costs U.S. taxpayers millions of dollars each year, and my office will continue to hold accountable those found to be behind these fraudulent claims.”
“Each year, IRS-CI special agents and the U.S. Attorney’s Office investigate and prosecute return preparer fraud, which includes adding false deductions and credits in order to inflate refunds,” said Bryant Jackson, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Cincinnati Field Office.
As of tax year 2018, 55 percent of taxpayers used a paid preparer. Although most preparers provide honest and professional services, there is a small number of dishonest preparers who set up shop during filing season to steal money
, or personal and financial information from clients, or who improperly inflate tax credits or deductions with false return information. Taxpayers can avoid falling victim to unscrupulous preparers by following important steps:
- Look for a preparer who is available year-round in case questions arise after the filing season.
- Ask if the preparer has an IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN), which is required for paid preparers.
- Inquire about the preparer’s credentials and check their qualifications.
- Ask about service fees. Avoid preparers who base fees on a percentage of their client’s refund, claim to offer a bigger refund than their competition, or guarantee a refund.
- Never sign a blank or incomplete return and review it before signing. Refunds should go directly to the taxpayer, not the preparer.
For more tips on choosing a tax professional or to file a complaint against one, visit IRS.gov.
Acting U.S. Attorney Patel commended the IRS-CI Special Agents who investigated Gravely’s case and Assistant Deputy Criminal Chief Jessica W. Knight and Assistant United States Attorney David J. Twombly, who are representing the United States. Chief U.S. District Judge Algenon L. Marbley accepted Gravely’s plea.
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