Chicago-Area Tax Return Preparer Pleads Guilty to False Tax Return Scheme

An Illinois woman pleaded guilty today to aiding and assisting in the preparation of false income tax returns.

According to court documents and statements made in court, Vervia Watts, of Lansing, operated a tax preparation business for clients in Illinois and elsewhere.

From January 2017 through June 2023, Watts prepared and filed individual income tax returns for her clients, intentionally reporting false education expenses and business income to obtain refunds from the IRS in amounts greater than they were entitled to receive.

Watts received at least $300 for each return she prepared, which, in total, claimed more than $1.

5 million in fraudulent refunds.

Watts is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb.

14, 2024, and faces a maximum penalty of three years in prison.

Watts also faces a period of supervised release, restitution and monetary penalties.

A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.

S.

Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M.

Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division made the announcement.

IRS Criminal Investigation is investigating the case.

Trial Attorneys Meredith Havekost and Regina Jeon of the Tax Division are prosecuting the case.

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