Interagency state crackdown on tax fraud yields multiple arrests

BATON ROUGE – Multiple arrests this week bring to 58 the number of people jailed for tax fraud under a joint initiative of the Louisiana Department of Revenue (LDR) and Attorney General Jeff Landry’s office.

“Investigating and prosecuting tax fraud remains a top priority of the Department of Revenue,” Secretary of Revenue Kimberly Robinson said. “These arrests demonstrate that our partnership with the A.G.’s office and other agencies is producing tangible results for Louisiana taxpayers.”

Three suspects were arrested this week and booked into the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison.

Michael Wayne Chauncy (Booking Photo) faces multiple felony charges for failing to report and pay taxes on nearly a half-million dollars in income.

Investigators say Chauncy did not file state individual income tax returns for the tax years 2007 through 2014. During that period, from 2011 through 2014, records show he earned $445,337 as a used car sales manager at a dealership in Gonzales.

Chauncy owes an estimated $25,032 in taxes on the unreported income. He was charged on Wednesday, January 20 with Penalty for Failure to File and Evasion of Tax.

In a separate case, Tiffany L. Polk (Booking Photo) is charged with multiple felonies related to her work as a tax preparer. Investigators say Polk submitted state income tax returns for clients that contained fraudulent claims for tax credits and tax deductions.

In one case, Polk is accused of submitting state and federal income tax returns without the taxpayer’s knowledge, directing the refunds to a bank account she set up in the taxpayer’s name, and transferring the money to her own bank account. She was charged on Wednesday, January 20 with Identity Theft, Attempted Theft, Computer Fraud and Filing or Maintaining False Public Records.

And in the third case this week, Chad William Reeves (Booking Photo) is accused of underreporting the sale price of used cars at his dealership, remitting too little sales tax, and pocketing the difference.

Investigators say that in 2014, Reeves, owner of Baton Rouge Sports & Imports, reported 62 vehicle sales to the state Office of Motor Vehicles (OMV) at drastically lower prices than he actually sold them for. The scheme defrauded the state of $17,400 in sales taxes.

Reeves, who has not filed a state individual income tax return since 2011, is accused also of failing to report more than $100,000 in personal income. He was charged on Thursday, January 21 with Evasion of Tax, Theft, Failing to Account for State Tax Monies and Injuring Public Records.

The Louisiana Used Motor Vehicle Commission (LUMVC) worked closely with the LDR Criminal Investigation Division on the Reeves case.

“The used motor vehicle dealer’s license for Baton Rouge Sports & Imports, Inc. is currently suspended, as well as the licenses for Chad Reeves and all affiliated salespersons,” LUMVC Executive Director Derek Parnell said. “Further investigations into the dealer’s fraudulent activities are being conducted and more violations are pending.”

Since it began in 2013, the state’s anti-tax fraud crackdown has stopped $21 million in fraudulent refunds from being issued and collected $500,000 in restitution from those arrested.

As tax-filing season begins, LDR is intensifying its fraud detection program. Because of the effort to protect Louisiana citizens from identity theft and other forms of fraud, taxpayers who file their returns electronically can expect their refunds within 60 days of filing. Those who file paper returns should expect to wait 12 to 14 weeks.

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