BATON ROUGE – A Baton Rouge woman and her son face a total of 40 felony counts of suspected fraud in their work as tax preparers, the Louisiana Department of Revenue reported Wednesday.
Madie Langley of 6150 Lotus Street in Baton Rouge and her son Darin Langley of 260 Sharp Rd., Apt. 104 in Baton Rouge are tax preparers at Matrix Computers and Tax Services. Both were arrested for filing or maintaining false public records and computer fraud.
“The Department of Revenue is committed to combatting tax fraud. As we begin the tax season, these recent arrests emphasize the need for Louisiana taxpayers to choose carefully when selecting a tax preparer,” Secretary of Revenue Tim Barfield said. “Taxpayers should be aware that when they select someone to prepare their tax returns, they are ultimately responsible for the accuracy of the information and any funds that the Department will seek to recover.”
During the investigation, interviews with clients show that tax returns submitted by the mother and son team had suspicious information, showing a false businesses and false business losses when, in fact, the client did not own a business or had not sustained a loss.
The use of business losses is a common technique among unscrupulous tax preparers who guarantee their clients larger refunds than they would receive otherwise. It is one of the practices targeted by LDR and the state Attorney General’s Office in their joint anti-tax fraud initiative that has resulted in 36arrests since it began in March 2013.
Attorney General Buddy Caldwell said, “Our partnership with the Department of Revenue signifies Louisiana’s commitment to combating tax fraud. This is not a victimless crime and those who choose to prepare fraudulent tax returns will be held accountable.”
Darin Langley faces 24 counts of suspected fraud and was arrested on December 22, 2014. Madie Langley faces 16 counts of suspected fraud and was arrested on Monday, January 12, 2015.
The Department of Revenue encourages taxpayers to be selective when choosing a tax preparer. The following steps can help you protect yourself against tax-preparer fraud:
- Try to find a preparer who will be around to answer questions after the return has been filed.
- Avoid preparers who base their fee on a percentage of the amount of the refund or who claim they can obtain larger refunds than other preparers without first reviewing your returns.
- Review and ask questions before signing a return.
- Ask others that you know who have used that preparer if they were satisfied with the services that they received.
- Ask any preparer that you are considering for references.
- Ask and verify if the preparer belongs to a professional organization that requires its members to pursue continuing education and also holds them accountable to a code of ethics.
- Always question entries on your return that you don’t understand.
- Never sign a blank return.
- Insist that the preparer sign the return and provide his appropriate information on the return.
- Insist on receiving a copy of the return before it is filed.
LDR will begin accepting 2014 Louisiana Individual Income Tax Returns on Tuesday, January 20. LDR will begin processing returns on February 3 and will start issuing refunds on February 24.