Archive for February, 2015

Tax preparer arrested on dozens of felony counts for tax fraud

 

Lisa Adams - 1617 Carriage Lane, Harvey

Lisa Adams – 1617 Carriage Lane, Harvey

BATON ROUGE – A Harvey woman faces dozens of felony charges for falsifying information on her own tax return and those of clients of her tax preparation business.

Lisa Adams, of 1617 Carriage Lane in Harvey, allegedly submitted state tax returns for clients of Omega Tax Services that contained false business losses for companies that had not sustained any losses, and in some cases for companies that did not exist.

Louisiana Department of Revenue investigators interviewed ten of Adams’ clients. Four of them were business owners who said she fabricated losses on their 2013 tax returns. And six of them said she listed business losses on their returns despite the fact that they did not own or operate businesses in 2013.

Adams is accused also of falsifying her own tax return, citing losses for a florist shop she claimed she owned in 2013. There is no evidence that business ever existed.

And Adams is charged with falsifying a mortgage interest statement to claim a tax deduction for a property in New Orleans. In that case, she received a fraudulent refund in the amount of $716.

The entire series of fraud schemes amounted to $28,458.

Adams was arrested on Wednesday, February 25 and booked into the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on 11 counts of filing or maintaining false public records, 11 counts of computer fraud, two counts of forgery and one count of theft. She is the 41st person arrested under a joint anti-fraud initiative of the Department of Revenue and the state Attorney General’s office.

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Booking Photo: Lisa Adams – 1617 Carriage Lane, Harvey, LA

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Business tax assistance available at New Orleans Dept. of Revenue office

BATON ROUGE – Business operators and tax preparers needing help with corporate income, sales, withholding, and other business taxes can get in-person customer service at the New Orleans regional office of the Louisiana Department of Revenue (LDR).

Beginning March 2, the office will be open Monday through Friday from 8AM-4PM. Customer service is by appointment only. Call 504-568-5231 to leave a voicemail message requesting an appointment. An LDR tax officer will return the call within 24 hours to confirm.

Assistance at the New Orleans LDR office is for business taxes only. Regional office staff cannot help with the preparation of state individual income tax returns. For answers to questions about individual income taxes, visit www.revenue.louisiana.gov/IndividualIncomeTax or call 855-307-3893.

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LDR to Begin Issuing Refunds the Week of March 2

BATON ROUGE – In response to the recent increase and still unfolding developments centered around fraudulent tax returns filed across the country, the Louisiana Department of Revenue announced today that the Department is taking extra precautions to verify the filings and refunds of taxpayers and will extend the date to begin issuing refunds by one week, until the week of March 2.

“Given the increase in the filing of fraudulent tax returns around the country, where criminals are stealing identities and claiming refunds in others’ names, we decided to implement additional security measures this year to ensure we detect any suspicious activity, and to protect the identities of our taxpayers,” said Secretary of Revenue Tim Barfield.

The extended period will provide the Department with more time to closely review returns and to utilize its identification verification process for individual taxpayers when and if inconsistencies in returns are identified.

While identity-based tax refund fraud is still a relatively new problem for revenue departments in the 43 states where taxpayers file tax returns, the Department of Revenue is ahead of the curve. Over the past two years, LDR has prevented over $11 million in fraudulent tax refunds from going out the door. Also, through a joint anti-fraud initiative with the state Attorney General’s office, 40 people have been arrested for fraudulent activity.

“We recognize that this situation places an undeserved burden on the thousands of taxpayers who consistently do the right thing. It is unfortunate that at this time the good taxpayers will suffer for those who have chosen to be criminals,” added Barfield. “This is the very reason why the Department of Revenue must do all that we can to safeguard our taxpayers against this type of fraudulent activity.”

Taxpayers who have concerns about the security of their personal information provided to any third party tax preparation software vendor should contact that vendor immediately.  Taxpayers who have a reason to believe they may be a victim of identity theft can contact LDR’s Criminal Investigations Division on its fraud hotline at 1-866-940-7053. They can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov/complaint.

LDR began accepting returns on January 20, and was originally scheduled to begin issuing returns on Tuesday, February 24. To date, the Department has received 664,956 electronic returns. On average, the Department processes 1.9 million electronic returns during the tax filing season. The backlog of refund requests received is expected to take a week to complete processing. Once the Department is current, normal processing times of 21 days for electronic returns and 10 weeks for paper returns can be expected.

Taxpayers can check the status of a refund by visiting www.revenue.louisiana.gov/refund.

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LDR Discovers Attempts to File Fraudulent Income Tax Returns through TurboTax software

BATON ROUGE – The Louisiana Department of Revenue has discovered a number of attempts to file fraudulent income tax returns for the 2014 filing season. LDR has reason to believe the fraudulent filings originated from data compromised through Intuit/Turbo Tax software. To our knowledge, all information in the State’s tax computer system remains secure and has not been compromised.

To date, LDR has flagged 2,011 returns filed through TurboTax software.  LDR is taking extra precautions to verify the filings and refunds to ensure that taxpayers receive their proper refunds. The Department is using all available technology and resources to help protect and secure all taxpayer data. When inconsistencies in returns are identified, LDR will utilize its identification verification process for individual taxpayers.

“It is our responsibility to protect the personal information of taxpayers, and we do not take that responsibility lightly” said Secretary of Revenue Tim Barfield. “To our knowledge, our systems at the Louisiana Department of Revenue have not been compromised, but we want to alert all taxpayers who may have been victimized and had their personal information comprised by TurboTax, so they can take the steps needed to protect themselves. “

LDR has been in contact with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and other states that have identified potential problems and will work with them and any other appropriate authorities to make certain Louisiana citizens are protected and apprised of the latest developments.

LDR began accepting returns on January 20, and began processing them on February 3. LDR is scheduled to begin issuing tax refunds around February 24. Since tax refunds have not been issued at this time, LDR is in an even better position to safeguard taxpayers against fraudulent activity, including the suspicion of identity theft, through the Department’s fraud detection systems.

“We will continue to monitor this situation closely, and will work diligently to ensure we do everything possible to protect taxpayer’s information and to ensure they receive the refunds they deserve,” said Barfield.

Taxpayers who have concerns about the security of their personal information provided to TurboTax should contact them at 1-800-944-8596.

Taxpayers may verify the current status of their state income tax return by going to www.revenue.lousiania.gov.

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