Tax Return Preparers Allegedly Made False Claims for the Fuel Tax Credit
A Lauderhill, Florida tax return preparation business, and several of its corporate officers, prepare false tax returns for their customers, according to a new civil lawsuit filed by the Justice Department today. The suit, filed in federal court in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, asks the court to bar Aleluya Universal Accounting Services Inc. (Aleluya) and its officers Frantz Petit-Dos, Luczor Fertilien, and David Joseph from preparing federal income tax returns for others. The government also requests a court order requiring the business and these officers to disgorge the gross receipts they obtained from preparing federal tax returns that make, among other things, false claims.
The complaint alleges that the defendants prepare tax returns that unlawfully understate income tax liabilities and overstate refunds by fabricating and/or exaggerating deductions and tax credits their clients are not eligible to take. For example, the defendants claimed Fuel Tax Credits for customers who did not qualify for this credit, according to the complaint. In particular, Joseph falsely advised one customer that she was eligible for the Fuel Tax Credit because she was self-employed and drove herself to work, according to the complaint. Similarly, Fertilien told the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that he advised anyone with receipts for gas used in their vehicles could claim the Fuel Tax Credit, according to the complaint.
The government alleges in its complaint that Petit-Dos’s, Fertilien’s, and Joseph’s misconduct predates the creation of Aleluya. Prior to Joseph forming Aleluya in June 2013, Petit-Dos and Fertilien owned a tax return preparation business called Imperial Taxation that was located at the same Lauderhill location as Aleluya, according to the complaint. The complaint alleges that Petit-Dos, Fertilien, and Joseph (a return preparer at Imperial Taxation) prepared false tax returns and committed other violations of the Internal Revenue Code while at Imperial Taxation. Altogether, the complaint alleges that the loss to the U. S. Treasury from the defendants’ activities may be in the millions of dollars.
The IRS is reminding taxpayers that the 2017 individual income tax return filing season began on Jan. 23, 2017, and there is information available on the IRS’s website. Return preparer fraud was one of the IRS’s Dirty Dozen Tax Scams for 2016 and taxpayers seeking a return preparer should remain vigilant. The IRS has some tips on their website for choosing a tax preparer and has launched a free directory of federal tax preparers.
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 on 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.
Caused Tax Loss of More than $550,000
A Broward County, Florida tax return preparer pleaded guilty today to conspiring to file and filing fraudulent tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), announced Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and Acting U.S. Attorney Benjamin G. Greenberg for the Southern District of Florida.
According to documents filed with the court, Frantz Petit-Dos, 41, owned two tax preparation businesses in Lauderhill, Florida: Imperial Taxation and Multi-Services Corp. and Aleluya Universal Accounting Services Inc., with Luczor Fertilien, 39, and David Joseph, 37. From approximately 2010 through 2016, Petit-Dos, Fertilien and Joseph filed fraudulent returns for their clients seeking refunds to which the clients were not entitled, by reporting fictitious business income, fraudulent education and fuel tax credits and claiming deceased individuals as dependents. They also filed returns in the names of individuals whose identities had been stolen. Petit-Dos did not report the illegal proceeds he received from this scheme on his personal tax returns and admitted to causing a tax loss of more than $550,000. On July 14, Fertilien and Joseph pleaded guilty to their involvement in this scheme.
Petit-Dos is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 6 before U.S. District Court Judge William P. Dimitrouleas. He faces a statutory maximum sentence of five years in prison on the conspiracy count and a maximum sentence of three years in prison on the false return count. He also faces a period of supervised release, restitution and monetary penalties. Fertilien and Joseph are scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 22.
Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Goldberg and Acting U.S. Attorney Greenberg thanked special agents of IRS Criminal Investigation and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, who conducted the investigation, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Neil Karadbil and Assistant Chief Greg Tortella of the Tax Division, who are prosecuting the case.
Additional information about the Tax Division’s enforcement efforts can be found on the division’s website.