"Individuals who prepare (tax) returns for others have a responsibility to file accurate tax returns for their clients," Christopher R. Pikelis, special agent in charge of the Nashville Field Office of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Criminal Investigation Division said.
Pikelis and United States Attorney Jane W. Duke announced that a Batesville women, Melba Nelia Lopez, 31, was recently sentenced to serve 18 months in a federal prison for preparation of fraudulent income tax returns.
Lopez was the owner and operator of Melba's Tax Office in Batesville. Lopez admitted that on Feb. 14, 2005, she prepared a 2004 federal income tax return for a client that contained materially false items, which generated a larger refund than the client was actually entitled to receive.
She also admitted that in January 2006 she prepared a 2005 federal income tax return for a different client that resulted in overpayment to that client as well.
The amounts claimed in those 2004 and 2005 returns were fraudulently inflated by $6,534 and $3,472. After preparation, both returns were submitted to the IRS.
Lopez admitted that as a result of her fraudulent conduct the tax loss to the government was approximately $95,428 which Lopez was ordered to pay back to the IRS in restitution.
In imposing sentence, Chief United States District Judge J. Leon Holmes noted that Lopez' conduct was intentional and repetitive. He further explained that he considered the offenses very serious in nature because they constituted theft from the United States Government.
"Most tax preparers are honest and provide a valuable service to their customers," Pikelis said. "However, the IRS will not tolerate dishonest tax preparers, since their fraudulent activities undermine our tax system."
"This sentence, which comes on the eve of tax season, should serve as a very loud warning to tax preparers throughout this district," Duke said. "Federal authorities are diligently watching for fraud and abuse, if we see fraud and abuse we will take swift and aggressive measures against those who have committed it."