Archive for September, 2015

Clarification of Press Release Dated September 29, 2015

 

online shop_cropped

The Louisiana Department of Revenue would like to provide clarification regarding its press release issued earlier today.

JP Morgan Chase is ending its prepaid debit card services for those taxpayers receiving the Louisiana MyRefund Prepaid Debit Card.

The updated release is below:

Important Changes Coming to LDR Tax Refund Options

BATON ROUGE – Due to JPMorgan Chase ending its line of business for prepaid debit card services, taxpayers will no longer be able to choose the Louisiana MyRefund Prepaid Debit Card as an option to receive their tax refund from the Louisiana Department of Revenue, effective Friday, October 2.

Taxpayers will continue to have the option of receiving their tax refund through direct deposit or by a paper check. The department strongly urges taxpayers to choose the direct deposit option to ensure the fastest and most secure means to receive their refunds.

Any refunds approved and processed by LDR beginning October 2, where taxpayers have requested a Louisiana MyRefund Prepaid Debit Card for their refund option, will default to a paper check and will be mailed to the taxpayer’s address on file.

Existing Louisiana MyRefund Prepaid Debit Card holders with funds currently available on their cards will still be able to use them after October 2; however, once funds are depleted, they will not have the option to request that future refunds be placed on a card.

For additional information about tax refund options, visit www.revenue.louisiana.gov or call 1-855-307-3893.

Comments

Important Changes Coming to LDR Tax Refund Options

BATON ROUGE – Due to J.P. Morgan Chase eliminating its debit card services, taxpayers will no longer be able to choose the MyRefund Debit Card as an option to receive their tax refund from the Louisiana Department of Revenue, effective Friday, October 2.

Taxpayers will continue to have the option of receiving their tax refund through direct deposit or by a paper check. The department strongly urges taxpayers to choose the direct deposit option to ensure the fastest and most secure means to receive their refunds.

Any refunds approved and processed by LDR after October 2, where taxpayers have requested a MyRefund Debit Card for their refund option, will default to a paper check and will be mailed to the taxpayer’s address on file.

Existing MyRefund Debit Card holders with funds currently available on their cards will still be able to use them after October 2; however, once funds are depleted, they will not have the option to request that future refunds be placed on a card.

For additional information about tax refund options, visit www.revenue.louisiana.gov or call 1-855-307-3893.

Comments

Gretna tax preparer is 50th person arrested in statewide tax fraud crackdown

Joyce Marie Gaines

Joyce Marie Gaines

BATON ROUGE – The owner of a Gretna tax preparation business is the 50th person arrested under a statewide initiative to crack down on tax fraud in Louisiana.

Joyce M. Gaines of Harvey (Booking Photo) is owner of Tax Town, LLC. She is accused of filing state income tax returns containing fabricated business losses for hundreds of clients, many of whom were not business owners. The scheme resulted in more than a quarter-million dollars in fraudulent state income tax refunds.

Gaines was booked into the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on Thursday, September 24, on charges of Filing or Maintaining False Public Records and Illegal Transmission of Monetary Funds. Two of her employees, Tamicka Kitts and Raquel Walker, were arrested on the same charges on Tuesday, September 22.

Gaines is one of dozens of tax preparers, business operators and individual taxpayers arrested since the Louisiana Department of Revenue (LDR) and the Office of the Louisiana Attorney General joined forces in 2013 to investigate and prosecute tax fraud.

When data indicated several years ago that tax fraud was on the rise, LDR hired two full-time investigators and assigned them to work with Louisiana Department of Justice on the issue.

“Louisiana taxpayers need and deserve a strong enforcement program to stop criminals from taking advantage of the system,” Secretary of Revenue Tim Barfield said. “This milestone demonstrates the investment is paying off.”

Since the joint anti-fraud crackdown began in March 2013, LDR has recovered $416,638 in court-ordered restitution of fraudulent refunds. There have been 17 criminal convictions.

“When someone cheats the system by committing tax fraud, the hard working, tax-paying citizens of Louisiana are left with the bill,” Attorney General Buddy Caldwell said. “We are achieving great results through our partnership with the Department of Revenue and will continue to take action against those who threaten the vital services we all depend on.”

The anti-tax fraud initiative is one part of a broader LDR effort to ensure the integrity of the tax refund system. Since 2014, the department has saved taxpayers more than $50 million through identity verification, restitution payments, investigation collections, refund desk audits and reviews, and the Tax Refund Intercept Program (TRIP), which stops fraudulent refunds before they are issued.

Protect yourself from fraud

Even if someone else prepares your tax return, you are legally accountable for its content. If you receive unearned refunds due to a fraudulent return, you are responsible for making restitution to the state. Protect yourself by choosing a reputable tax preparer.

Tips for selecting a preparer:

  • Choose a preparer who will be available to answer questions after the return has been filed
  • Find out what the preparer’s service fees are before the return is prepared
  • Avoid preparers who base their fee on a percentage of the amount of your refund or who claim they can obtain larger refunds than other preparers without first reviewing your returns
  • Avoid tax preparers who ask you to sign a blank tax form
  • Before signing your return, carefully review it and ask questions
  • Ask any tax preparer for references
  • Check to see if the tax preparer has any questionable history with the Better Business Bureau, the state’s board of accountancy for CPAs or the state’s bar association
  • Check to see if the tax preparer belongs to a professional organization that requires its members to pursue continuing education and holds them accountable to a code of ethics
  • Check to see if the tax preparer has a proper Preparer Tax Identification Number (“PTIN”) from the Internal Revenue Service, which is necessary for filing federal tax returns
  • Ensure that the IRS has not obtained a permanent injunction prohibiting the tax preparer from preparing federal tax returns
  • Always question entries on your return that you do not understand; never sign a blank return
  • Insist that the tax preparer sign the return and provide appropriate taxpayer information on the return

Traits of a reputable preparer:

  • They ask multiple questions to determine whether expenses, deductions and other items qualify as legitimate tax deductions
  • They remind clients they should keep careful and complete records in order to substantiate information contained on their tax return
  • They provide their clients with a copy of their completed return for their records

They respond to contacts made by their clients in a reasonable period of time

Comments

New Orleans area tax preparers arrested for fraud

Raquel Walker

Raquel Walker

Tamicka Kitts

Tamicka Kitts

BATON ROUGE – Two employees of a Gretna tax preparation business face multiple felony charges for a criminal scheme resulting in more than a quarter-million dollars in fraudulent state income tax refunds.

Raquel M. Walker of Harvey (Booking photo), and Tamicka D. Kitts of Gretna (Booking photo) are employees of Tax Town, LLC.  Investigators with the Louisiana Department of Revenue say they filed state income tax returns containing fabricated business losses for hundreds of clients who had reported no losses, and who in many cases were not business owners. The tax filings resulted in the state issuing more than $250,000 in fraudulent refunds.

Kitts was convicted in federal court in 2004 for similar activities.

Fabricated business losses are a common fraud technique used by unscrupulous tax preparers to inflate their fees for more complex tax filings, and to ensure repeat business from clients. But even when tax preparers commit fraud, taxpayers are responsible for paying back the improperly issued refunds. The Department of Revenue encourages taxpayers to examine carefully all tax documents filed on their behalf.

Tamicka Kitts and Raquel Walker were booked into the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on Tuesday, September 22 on charges of Principal to Filing or Maintaining False Public Records and Principal to Illegal Transmission of Monetary Funds.

These arrests bring to 49 the number of suspects charged under a joint anti-fraud initiative of the Department of Revenue and the state Attorney General’s Office.

Comments