Federal Court Shuts Down South Florida Tax Preparers

Federal Court Shuts Down South Florida Tax Preparers

On March 25, a federal court in the Southern District of Florida permanently enjoined two Miami-area tax return preparers and their businesses from preparing federal tax returns or operating any tax return preparation business in the future. The court ordered that they disgorge more than $60,000 in return preparer proceeds to the United States. The court also issued a narrower injunction against a third preparer and his business.

The complaint alleged that defendant Tammi King owned and operated two return preparation businesses, Kingsworld Financial Services Corp. and Brightstar Management Corp. in South Florida, and employed defendant Norman Williams Jr. to prepare tax returns. The complaint also alleged that a third individual, John Gay Jr., owned a return preparation business called the Tax Doctor LLC, with which King was affiliated at one time. According to the complaint, King, Williams and Gay all prepared tax returns for customers that included fraudulent self-employment expenses, false energy credits, and fake charitable contributions. As one example, the complaint alleged that Williams, a Miami-area firefighter, fabricated more than $1,300,000 in fraudulent cash charitable contributions for 96 of his fellow firefighters for the 2019 tax year.

On Friday, King, Williams and King’s businesses consented to permanent injunctions. They must permanently cease all operations at any office location, including offices located at 8876 N.W. 7th Avenue in Miami and 1130 W. Sunrise Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale. The approximately $60,000 in disgorgement ordered by the court is based on fees associated with returns filed by King and Williams, including 238 returns Williams prepared for fellow-firefighters between tax years 2018 and 2020.

The court also issued a narrower injunction against Gay and The Tax Doctor LLC, to which Gay consented. The injunction does not shut down The Tax Doctor LLC, but requires that Gay and this business employ heightened document substantiation and record keeping requirements before preparing and filing returns claiming certain credits and deductions, including the Child Tax Credit, head of household status for a taxpayer, dependent care deductions and certain tuition-related credits.

Deputy Assistant Attorney General David A. Hubbert of the Justice Department’s Tax Division made the announcement.

Return preparer fraud is one of the IRS’ Dirty Dozen Tax Scams and taxpayers seeking a return preparer should remain vigilant. (More information can also be found here.) The IRS has information on its website for choosing a tax preparer, has launched a free directory of federal tax preparers, and offers information on how to avoid “ghost” tax preparers, whose refusal to sign a return should be a red flag to taxpayers. The IRS also has a checklist of things to remember when filing income tax returns in 2022.

In addition, IRS Free File, a public-private partnership, offers free online tax preparation and filing options on IRS partner websites for individuals whose adjusted gross income is under $72,000. For individuals whose income is over that threshold, IRS Free File offers electronical federal tax forms that can be filled out and filed online for free. The IRS has tips on how seniors and individuals with low to moderate income can get other help or guidance on tax return preparation, too.

In the past decade, the Tax Division has obtained injunctions against hundreds of unscrupulous tax preparers. Information about these cases is available on the Justice Department’s website. An alphabetical listing of persons enjoined from preparing returns and promoting tax schemes can be found this page. If you believe that one of the enjoined persons or businesses may be violating an injunction, please contact the Tax Division with details.

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