Archive for January, 2010

Captured fugitive faces charges of theft and bank fraud

BATON ROUGE – A fugitive fraud suspect on the run for nearly three years is in custody in Louisiana facing felony charges including theft and bank fraud.  Enforcement agents with the Louisiana Bureau of Alcohol and Tobacco Control (ATC) arrested 26-year old Ardel Youssef, wanted for his suspected participation in a series of bank frauds totaling nearly $200,000 in 2007 and 2009.

Youssef’s alleged criminal activity is connected to a company named ZBR Ahlmar Inc., doing business as Canal Junction, a tobacco products retailer.  Youssef owned the company with his mother, 45-year old Huwiata Youssef.  Criminal allegations date to 2007 when ATC investigators received complaints that the Youssefs had issued thousands of dollars of worthless checks to tobacco wholesale dealers.  The 2007 investigation uncovered an elaborate fraud scheme against several victims including four banks.  The Youssefs were suspected of targeting the banks with a check kiting scheme to acquire the money to purchase property for their business and to stock it with tobacco products. 

However, by the time the arrest warrants were issued, the Youssefs had relocated and could not be found.

In 2009, the Alexandria Police Department identified Ardel Youssef as the suspect in a felony theft case involving the purchase of telephone calling cards using worthless checks totaling $20,000.  However, Youssef fled the Alexandria area before police could arrest him.

On Wednesday, January 27, 2010, ATC enforcement agents received information that Ardel Youssef had boarded a plane at JFK International Airport in New York headed for Shreveport.  Youssef was on the plane and ATC agents, assisted by Shreveport Regional Airport Police, arrested him shortly after it landed.

“Ardel Youssef’s pattern of behavior suggests that he was returning to Louisiana to resume his criminal enterprise,” said ATC Commissioner Murphy Painter. “I am proud of the work by all agencies involved to get this suspect off the streets and bring this crime spree to an end.”

 Ardel Youssef was booked into the Caddo Parish Correctional Center on multiple charges of theft, issuing worthless checks and bank fraud.

Huwiata Youssef is still being sought for her suspected participation in these crimes.  Investigators ask anyone with information on her location to call ATC at 225-925-4041 or their local law enforcement agency.

For more information, please contact:

Lt. Sasha Hyderkhan

Public Information Officer, Training and Support Services Unit

Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control

Office: 225-925-4041

Cell: 225-773-8088

Fax: 225-922-0312

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IRS marks EITC Awareness Day, highlights expanded tax credit

IR-2010-14, Jan. 29, 2010

WASHINGTON — An expanded Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) means larger families will qualify for a larger credit, offering greater relief for people who struggled through difficult financial times last year, the Internal Revenue Service said today.

The IRS and the Treasury Department marked EITC Awareness Day as their partners nationwide worked to highlight the availability of this important tax credit. EITC, which is in its thirty-fifth year, is one of the federal government’s largest benefit programs for working families and individuals. Last year, nearly 24 million people received $50 Billion in benefits. The average credit was more than $2,000.

“As part of the economic recovery efforts, there have been important changes to expand EITC to benefit taxpayers,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. “Today, more than ever, hard-working individuals and families can use a little extra help. EITC can make the lives of working people a little easier.”

Eligibility for EITC depends on earned income and family size, among other tests. However, single people and childless workers also are eligible, although for smaller amounts. For tax years 2009 and 2010, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act created a new category for families with three or more children and expanded the maximum benefit for this category.

To qualify for the EITC, earned income and adjusted gross income (AGI) for individuals must each be less than:

  • $43,279 ($48,279 married filing jointly) with three or more qualifying children
  • $40,295 ($45,295 married filing jointly) with two qualifying children
  • $35,463 ($40,463 married filing jointly) with one qualifying child
  • $13,440 ($18,440 married filing jointly) with no qualifying children

The maximum credit for tax year 2009 is:

  • $5,657 with three or more qualifying children
  • $5,028 with two qualifying children
  • $3,043 with one qualifying child
  • $457 with no qualifying children

The maximum amount of investment income is $3,100 for tax year 2009. For families, there are also certain requirements for child residency and relationship that must be met. Additional eligibility information is available in FS-2010-11 and on the Web at IRS.gov/EITC.

Another new provision adds to the definition of a “qualifying child:” The child must be younger than the person claiming the child unless the child is totally and permanently disabled any time during the year. The child cannot have filed a joint return other than to claim a refund. Also new for 2009, if a qualifying child can be claimed by either a parent or another person, the other person must have an AGI higher than the parent in order to claim the child for EITC purposes.

Historically, one in four eligible taxpayers fails to claim the EITC, which is why the IRS and its free tax preparation partners host an annual EITC Awareness Day. This year, there are 68 news conferences being held around the country. Community coalitions and IRS partners nationwide also are also issuing 128 news releases, writing letters to the editor and using social media tools to spread the word about EITC.

Typically, people who fail to claim the EITC include workers without qualifying children, people whose earned income falls below the threshold required to file a tax return, farmers, rural residents, people with disabilities and nontraditional families such as grandparents raising grandchildren. People must file a tax return to claim the EITC.

Free help is available to EITC-eligible taxpayers. There are nearly 12,000 free tax preparation sites nationwide. People who want to prepare their own tax returns can visit Free File on IRS.gov. This free tax software and free electronic filing program will walk taxpayers through a question and answer format and help them claim the tax credits and deductions for which they are eligible.

EITC-eligible taxpayers also can seek assistance at the 400 IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers nationwide. To assist EITC taxpayers, 167 IRS assistance centers will offer Saturday service on Jan. 30, Feb. 6 and Feb. 20.

***The following offices will be open in Louisiana and Mississippi:

    Baton Rouge, Louisiana located at 2600 Citiplace – Open from 9 am to 2 pm

    New Orleans, Louisiana located at 1555 Poydras Street – Open from 9 am to 2 pm

    Jackson, Mississippi located 100 West Capital Street – Open from 9 am to 2 pm

There is an online EITC Assistant also available on IRS.gov which can help taxpayers and tax preparers determine eligibility. And, for tax preparers and IRS partners, there is EITC Central which has links to toolkits that include marketing products.

More than 65 percent of EITC returns are prepared by a third party. The IRS urges taxpayers to choose a reputable tax preparer to avoid problems that come with an inaccurate tax return. The agency also urges tax preparers to follow due diligence requirements when preparing an EITC tax return. More information is available at www.irs.gov/eitc.

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Don’t forget about state earned income tax credit, Dept. of Revenue reminds taxpayers

A state earned income credit is available to Louisiana residents who claim the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), the Louisiana Department of Revenue reminds taxpayers.

The Louisiana earned income credit is equal to 3.5 percent of the federal EITC.  For the 2009 tax year, the federal EITC is worth a maximum of $5,657, depending on such factors as your filing status, income level and number of children that you claim as dependents.  According to the IRS, the income thresholds for the federal EITC are:

  • $13,440 ($18,440 married filing jointly) if you do not have a qualifying child
  • $35,463 ($40,463 married filing jointly) if you have one qualifying child
  • $40,295 ($45,295 married filing jointly) if you have two qualifying children
  • $43,279 ($48,279 married filing jointly) if you have three or more qualifying children

The maximum amounts of the federal EITC are as follows:

  • $5,657 with three or more qualifying children
  • $5,028 with two qualifying children
  • $3,043 with one qualifying child
  • $457 with no qualifying children

To calculate the amount of Louisiana earned income credit, multiply the federal EITC amount by .035 (3.5 percent).  Some examples:

  • For taxpayers with three children who file a federal return as married filing jointly, earning $36,000, the federal EITC is $2591.  These taxpayers are entitled to claim a Louisiana earned income credit of $91. 
  • For a taxpayer with two children who files a federal return as single, head of household, or qualifying widow(er), earning $30,000, the federal EITC is $2,173.  The taxpayer is entitled to claim a Louisiana earned income credit of $76.
  • For taxpayers with one child who file a federal return as married filing jointly, earning $20,000, the federal EITC is $5,657.  These taxpayers are entitled to claim a Louisiana earned income credit of $198.

Eligible Louisiana residents can claim the state earned income credit on line 21 of the Louisiana Resident Individual Income Tax Return (Form IT-540) in the section titled “Refundable Tax Credits.”

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Donations for Haitian relief deductible on 2009 tax returns

People who make donations for relief of the Haitian earthquake crisis may claim deductions on their 2009 federal income tax returns. Under normal circumstances, these deductions would apply to 2010 tax returns filed in 2011. However, the U.S. Congress has passed House Resolution 4462, which makes charitable contributions for Haitian relief before March 1, 2010, eligible as deductions on returns filed this year.

To claim Haitian relief contributions as deductions on 2009 income tax returns, use Form 1040, Schedule A, Itemized Deductions.

For 2009 Louisiana income tax returns, the state allows 100 percent of excess itemized deductions as a reduction to Federal Adjusted Gross Income. This means that any Haitian relief contributions that were reported as itemized deductions will also reduce taxable income on Louisiana Resident Individual Income Tax Return Form IT-540 and Nonresident or Part-Year Resident return form IT-540 B.

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Dept. of Revenue encourages electronic filing with Louisiana File Online

BATON ROUGE – The Louisiana Department of Revenue (LDR) encourages all taxpayers to file electronically their tax returns for the 2009 tax year. 

Louisiana File Online is the state’s single-source location for all individual and business tax filing requirements.  Visit fileonline.revenue.louisiana.gov to take advantage of this fast, easy-to-use, absolutely free public resource.

“Tens of thousands of taxpayers used Louisiana File Online for the previous filing season,” said Secretary of Revenue Cynthia Bridges.  “This year, we want everyone to enjoy the speed and convenience of this public service from the Department of Revenue.”

Among its many advantages, Louisiana File Online allows taxpayers to:

  • File returns and pay taxes electronically
  • Check the status of individual income tax refunds
  • Amend tax returns
  • View business tax information for the current and previous years

Beginning with the 2009 Louisiana Resident Individual Income Tax Return, due no later than May 15, 2010, LDR will cease to distribute paper returns through the mail.  For the 2008 filing year, LDR distributed 180,000 pre-printed returns to taxpayers on file at a cost of $250,000.  We received back fewer than 40,000 of them.  The cost of postage is another real savings advantage from electronic filing.

Taxpayers who wish to file paper returns can find them at public libraries and at LDR offices throughout the state.

Any Louisiana tax return is available for download from the Tax Forms page at revenue.louisiana.gov.

The filing deadline for 2009 individual state income tax returns is May 15, 2010.

Visit The Revenue Stream to watch the new 30-second Louisiana File Online video.

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IRS News Release: IRS Proposes New Registration, Testing and Continuing Education Requirements for Tax Return Preparers Not Already Subject to Oversight

IR-2010-1, Jan. 4, 2010

WASHINGTON –– The Internal Revenue Service kicked off the 2010 tax filing season today by issuing the results of a landmark six-month study that proposes new registration, testing and continuing education of tax return preparers. With more than 80 percent of American households using a tax preparer or tax software to help them prepare and file their taxes, higher standards for the tax preparer community will significantly enhance protections and service for taxpayers, increase confidence in the tax system and result in greater compliance with tax laws over the long term.

To bring immediate help to taxpayers this filing season, the IRS also announced a sweeping new effort to reach tax return preparers with enforcement and education. As part of the outreach effort, the IRS is providing tips to taxpayers to ensure they are working with a reputable tax return preparer.

“As tax season begins, most Americans will turn to tax return preparers to help with one of their biggest financial transactions of the year. The decisions announced today represent a monumental shift in the way the IRS will oversee tax preparers,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. “Our proposals will help ensure taxpayers receive competent, ethical service from qualified professionals and strengthen the integrity of the nation’s tax system. In addition, we are taking immediate action to step up oversight of tax preparers this filing season.”

Based on the results of the Return Preparer Review released today, the IRS recommends a number of steps that it plans to implement for future filing seasons, including:

  • Requiring all paid tax return preparers who must sign a federal tax return to register with the IRS and obtain a preparer tax identification number (PTIN). These preparers will be subject to a limited tax compliance check to ensure they have filed federal personal, employment and business tax returns and that the tax due on those returns has been paid.
  • Requiring competency tests for all paid tax return preparers except attorneys, certified public accountants (CPAs) and enrolled agents who are active and in good standing with their respective licensing agencies.
  • Requiring ongoing continuing professional education for all paid tax return preparers except attorneys, CPAs, enrolled agents and others who are already subject to continuing education requirements.
  • Extending the ethical rules found in Treasury Department Circular 230 — which currently only apply to attorneys, CPAs and enrolled agents who practice before the IRS — to all paid preparers. This expansion would allow the IRS to suspend or otherwise discipline tax return preparers who engage in unethical or disreputable conduct.

Other measures the IRS anticipates taking are highlighted in the 55-page report released today.

Currently, anyone may prepare a federal tax return for anyone else and charge a fee. While some preparers are currently licensed by their states or are enrolled to practice before the IRS, many do not have to meet any government or professionally mandated competency requirements before preparing a federal tax return for a fee.

First Step: Letters to 10,000 Preparers

The initiatives announced today will take several years to fully implement and will not be in effect for the current 2010 tax season. In the meantime, the IRS is taking immediate action to step up oversight of preparers for the 2010 filing season.

Beginning this week, the IRS is sending letters to approximately 10,000 paid tax return preparers nationwide. These preparers are among those with large volumes of specific tax returns where the IRS typically sees frequent errors. The letters are intended to remind preparers to be vigilant in areas where the errors are frequently found, including Schedule C income and expenses, Schedule A deductions, the Earned Income Tax Credit and the First Time Homebuyer Credit.

Thousands of the preparers who receive these letters will also be visited by IRS Revenue Agents in the coming weeks to discuss their obligations and responsibilities to prepare accurate tax returns. This is part of a broader initiative by the IRS to step up its efforts to ensure paid tax return preparers are assisting clients appropriately. Separately, the IRS will be conducting other compliance and education visits with return preparers on a variety of issues.

In addition, the IRS will more widely use investigative tools during this filing season aimed at determining tax return preparer non-compliance. One of those tools will include visits to return preparers by IRS agents posing as a taxpayer.

During this effort, the IRS will continue to work closely with the Department of Justice to pursue civil or criminal action as appropriate.

Steps Taxpayers Can Take Now to Find a Preparer

In addition to the stepped-up oversight of preparers, Shulman also announced a new outreach effort to help make sure taxpayers choose a reputable preparer this filing season. That’s particularly important because taxpayers are legally responsible for what is on their tax returns — even if those returns are prepared by someone else.

“Taxpayers should protect themselves from unscrupulous preparers,” Shulman said. “There are some simple steps people can take to choose a reputable tax preparer.”

Most tax return preparers are professional, honest and provide excellent service to their clients. Shulman offered the following points for taxpayers to keep in mind when selecting a tax return preparer:

  • Be wary of tax preparers who claim they can obtain larger refunds than others.
  • Avoid tax preparers who base their fees on a percentage of the refund.
  • Use a reputable tax professional who signs the tax return and provides a copy.
  • Consider whether the individual or firm will be around months or years after the return has been filed to answer questions about the preparation of the tax return.
  • Check the person’s credentials. Only attorneys, CPAs and enrolled agents can represent taxpayers before the IRS in all matters, including audits, collection and appeals. Other return preparers may only represent taxpayers for audits of returns they actually prepared.
  • Find out if the return preparer is affiliated with a professional organization that provides its members with continuing education and other resources and holds them to a code of ethics.

More information about choosing a tax return preparer and avoiding fraud can be found in IRS Fact Sheet 2010-xx, How to Choose a Tax Preparer and Avoid Tax Fraud.

Resources for Taxpayers this Filing Season

This filing season, the IRS has many free resources to help taxpayers prepare and file their returns.

IRS.gov has a variety of features to help taxpayers. There’s a special section to help taxpayers get information on a variety of Recovery tax benefits. The web site also has information for people who lost a job or experienced financial problems in 2009. IRS.gov also has information to help people track their refund.

IRS.gov will once again host the IRS Free File program, which allows virtually everyone to file their taxes for free through the web site. Free File and the rest of the IRS e-file program will open later this month.

More filing season resources are available on IRS.gov:

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Louisiana File Online – Fast! Easy! Absolutely Free!

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‘Free tax preparation services VITA sites to open across SWLA’

From KPLC in Lake Charles:

Tax season is here and in Southwest Louisiana, an estimated $10 million of Federal Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC) go unclaimed by local taxpayers. However, not all eligible taxpayers may be aware or claim the credit. In addition, taxpayers who qualify for EITC also qualify for free tax preparation services through the use of Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Programs (VITA) which use IRS certified community volunteers. These volunteers can help qualifying taxpayers with special credits, such as Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, and Credit for the Elderly. The sites also offer free electronic filing (e-filing). Individuals taking advantage of the e-file program will receive their refund in ½ the time compared to returns filed on paper – even faster if refunds are deposited directly into the taxpayer’s bank account.

More at KPLCTV.com.

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RIB 09-057 – LDR ceases issuing contractor certifications

The Louisiana Department of Revenue has issued Revenue Information Bulletin (RIB) 09-057, explaining that LDR will no longer issue certify the residency of contractors working in Louisiana.

RIB 09-057:

Effective January 4, 2010, the Louisiana Department of Revenue (LDR) Contractor Registration Program will cease issuing new certifications. LDR will no longer certify the residency of contractors performing jobs in Louisiana or issue certificates for jobs performed by nonresident contractors. Nonresident contractors are also no longer required to pay the ten-dollar application fee per contract or post a bond.

Also effective January 4, 2010, resident contractors are no longer required to renew their certifications. Jobs performed by nonresident contractors certified prior to January 1, 2010 should continue to abide by LAC 61:I.4373 relative to nonresident contractors.

Every resident or nonresident contractor performing jobs in Louisiana must register for Louisiana general sales tax in addition to any other applicable taxes, including income or withholding. Proof of registration must be submitted to the permitting office prior to receiving a permit. To register online, visit www.revenue.louisiana.gov.

For more information, contact the Louisiana Department of Revenue at (225) 219-7318.


A Revenue Information Bulletin (RIB) is issued under the authority of LAC 61:III.101(D). A RIB is an informal statement of information issued for the public and employees that is general in nature. A RIB does not have the force and effect of law and is not binding on the public or the Department.

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LDR News Release – Parish E-File.com simplifies sales taxes

BATON ROUGE – Businesses that collect and remit sales taxes to state and local governments can reduce the time, effort, and paperwork involved by using Parish E-File, a free public service from the Louisiana Department of Revenue.

Parish E-File is a web application that provides a secure, convenient method of filing multiple state and parish sales and use tax returns throughout Louisiana. There are no fees associated with its use.

Businesses that operate multiple locations throughout the state will find Parish E-File especially useful. Instead of filing separate paper sales and use tax returns with each local taxing authority, the entire process can be handled from one central location online.

Parish E-File allows business to remit sales tax collections as well.

In 2009, Parish E-File logged an average of 36,550 sales and use tax returns per month and collected more than $800 million in taxes for state and local governments.

For more information, or to register, visit www.parishe-file.com.

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