Archive for LDR News Release

State officials notified of JPMorgan Chase data breach

BATON ROUGE – JPMorgan Chase notified Louisiana officials yesterday that personally identifiable information it holds under contracts with state agencies may have been breached. The company said it does not know if or to what extent information on Louisiana citizens may have been exposed.

Through contracts with the Louisiana Department of the Treasury and Louisiana Department of Revenue, JPMorgan Chase issues pre-paid debit cards for certain state agencies, including for state income tax refunds distributed by LDR, unemployment benefits paid by the Louisiana Workforce Commission and Child Support Enforcement, STEP Supportive Services and Child Care Assistance provider payments paid by the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services.

State agencies are working closely with JP Morgan Chase to keep Louisiana citizens apprised as more information about the breach becomes available.

In the interim, citizens, particularly those who have used pre-paid debit cards issued on behalf of these state agencies, are encouraged to monitor their credit statements and financial reports for any suspicious activities and to change the passwords on their respective accounts as a precaution.

For additional information, citizens can visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website at www.consumer.ftc.gov for general information about identity theft and to learn more about reporting suspected fraudulent activities.

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Hunting supplies free of state and local sales tax September 5-7

BATON ROUGE – Guns, ammunition and other hunting supplies are exempt from state and local sales taxes Friday, September 5 through Sunday, September 7.

The 2014 Louisiana Second Amendment Weekend Sales Tax Holiday applies to individual consumer purchases of a wide range of hunting gear, including:

  • Firearms that may be legally sold or purchased in Louisiana
  • Ammunition intended to be fired from a gun or firearm
  • Archery supplies to be used for hunting
  • Apparel such as  safety gear, camouflage clothing, jackets, hats, gloves, mittens, face masks and thermal underwear manufactured and marketed as being primarily for wear or use while hunting
  • Off-road vehicles such as all-terrain vehicles designed and intended primarily for hunting; the exemption does not apply to golf carts, go-carts, dirt bikes, mini-bikes, motorcycles, tractors, motor vehicles which may be legally driven on the streets and highways of Louisiana, or heavy equipment such as cranes, forklifts, backhoes and bulldozers

Visit www.revenue.louisiana.gov/secondamendment for more information, including the full list of eligible purchases, as well as those that do not qualify for the sales tax exemption.

By state law, the Louisiana Second Amendment Weekend Sales Tax Holiday is an annual event that takes place the first consecutive Friday through Sunday each September.

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New Orleans woman arrested for tax fraud, attempted theft

Melanie Donsereaux 3101 Rue Parc Fontaine, New Orleans

Melanie Donsereaux
3101 Rue Parc Fontaine, New Orleans

BATON ROUGE – A New Orleans woman faces felony charges connected to a fraudulent state income tax return she filed with the Louisiana Department of Revenue (LDR).Melanie R. Donsereaux, of 3101 Rue Parc Fontaine in New Orleans, is the 32nd person arrested under a joint anti-tax fraud initiative of the Department of Revenue and the state Attorney General’s office.

Donsereaux is accused of filing a Louisiana Individual Income Tax return for the 2012 tax year that included a forged W-2 wage and tax statement. LDR intercepted a fraudulent refund in the amount of $894.00 before it was issued.

Donsereaux is a suspected member of a group of criminals using phony W-2s to get fraudulent refunds from the state.

The arrest warrant was issued for Donsereaux in October 2013 after she failed to appear for an interview with LDR investigators. She was arrested on Wednesday, August 20, and booked into the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on one count of attempted theft and one count of filing or maintaining false public records.

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Rayville tax preparer booked on felony fraud charges

Donald Ray Jackson - 114 Spencer Street, Rayville

Donald Ray Jackson – 114 Spencer Street, Rayville

BATON ROUGE – A Rayville man faces 18 felony counts of suspected fraud in his work as a tax preparer.

Donald Ray Jackson, of 114 Spencer Street in Rayville, is accused of filing fraudulent income tax returns containing fabricated business losses. Seven of Jackson’s clients told investigators with the Louisiana Department of Revenue (LDR) that they did not own businesses. Two clients said they did own businesses, but that they did not sustain, or claim to have sustained, any losses.

Jackson’s alleged crimes cost Louisiana taxpayers more than $325,000 in fraudulent income tax refunds.

The fabrication of business losses is a common technique among unscrupulous tax preparers who guarantee their clients larger tax 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 31 arrests since it began in March 2013.

Jackson was arrested on Friday, August 15 and booked into the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on nine counts each of Computer Fraud and Filing or Maintaining False Public Records.

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Booking Photo

 

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2014 Louisiana Tax Amnesty Program to run Oct. 15-Nov. 14

BATON ROUGE –Louisiana Tax Amnesty 2014 will be held from Oct. 15 through Nov. 14, 2014, the Louisiana Department of Revenue (LDR) recently announced. The 30-day tax amnesty program offers noncompliant taxpayers the opportunity to settle their accounts with the state by paying 100 percent of delinquent taxes, with a waiver of all penalties and 50 percent of the interest owed.

New to the amnesty program this year is the option for individual and business taxpayers to pay their overdue tax liabilities through installment payments over a six-month period of time.

Beginning at 12:01 a.m. on Oct. 15 through 11:59 p.m. on Nov. 14, eligible taxpayers can apply online at www.ldrtaxamnesty.com. Or for more information, they can call 866-782-9241.

“Delinquent taxpayers have more options than ever to satisfy their obligations,” Secretary of Revenue Tim Barfield said. “Hopefully, this will encourage everybody who has fallen behind to take this opportunity to make a fresh start.”

The Louisiana State Legislature has set a goal of collecting $100 million for the 2014 Tax Amnesty program.

Taxpayers identified as noncompliant in LDR’s records should expect to receive a letter and/or a recorded telephone message before the start of the amnesty program with instructions for submitting applications and payments online. Contact information is drawn from data taxpayers have submitted to LDR with their tax filings and other communications.

Delinquent taxpayers have a limited amount of time to take advantage of amnesty. According to Act 822 of the 2014 legislative session, after the conclusion of the amnesty period in 2015, there shall be no new amnesty program implemented by the Department of Revenue before Jan. 1, 2025.

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Investigations uncover $1.4 million in tax fraud, yield multiple arrests

BATON ROUGE – Four separate investigations by the Louisiana Department of Revenue and the state Office of the Attorney General resulted in eight arrests in the month of July for felony tax fraud and uncovered more than $1.4 million in fraudulent refunds and improperly reduced tax liabilities.

“These arrests demonstrate the progress we are making in attacking fraud in Louisiana through our partnership with the Attorney General’s office,” Secretary of Revenue Tim Barfield said. “If these criminals thought of tax fraud as a low-risk, high-reward activity, they’re finding out they were wrong.”

“Tax fraud is not a victimless crime,” Attorney General Buddy Caldwell said.  “When a person cheats on their taxes, it puts the most vital services for our citizens at risk.”

Arrests

Elxzina Granger, of 311 Doc Duhon Street in Lafayette, was arrested on July 16, 2014, and charged with 13 counts each of computer fraud and filing or maintaining false public records. Granger, a tax preparer, allegedly fabricated business losses on federal and Louisiana state income tax returns for the 2012 tax year. Clients of Granger’s contacted by investigators said they did not own businesses, and had not provided her with any business-related documentation for their tax filings. Granger’s alleged crime resulted in $45,982 in fraudulent income tax refunds.

In a separate case, tax preparers working for We Care Tax Service at 3101 New Highway 51 in LaPlace are suspected of fabricating business losses for clients. Investigators determined that none of those clients owned a business. The alleged fraud in this case amounts to $1,175,541.

Five tax preparers at We Care Tax Service have been arrested and booked into the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison:

  • Sara Daspit-Lee, of 125 Oak Ridge Drive in LaPlace, arrested on July 22 and charged with nine counts of filing or maintaining false public records and nine counts of computer fraud
  • Emile Lee III, of 125 Oak Ridge Drive in LaPlace, arrested on July 22 and charged with nine counts of filing or maintaining false public records and nine counts of computer fraud
  • Johnnae Smith, of 107 4th Street in Chalmette, arrested on July 30 and charged with 11 counts each of computer fraud and filing or maintaining false public records
  • Bridget Butler, of 2229 Feliciana Street in New Orleans, arrested on July 30 and charged with nine counts each of computer fraud and filing or maintaining false public records
  • Delecisha Amos-Allen, of 19 Rush Drive in LaPlace, arrested on July 30 and charged with five counts each of computer fraud and filing or maintaining false public records

On Friday, July 25, investigators arrested Ashley Clement, of 2316 Ormond Boulevard in Destrehan, and booked her into the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison. She faces felony charges of fabricating business losses on her own Louisiana individual income tax return. Clement received $2,287 in fraudulent refunds. An additional $4,397 in attempted fraudulent refunds was blocked by the Department of Revenue’s Tax Refund Intercept Program (TRIP). Clement faces one count of theft and one count of attempted theft.

And in a fourth case, Deatrice Garrison Minor, of 1516 Westminster Boulevard in Marrero, was arrested on July 30 and booked into the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on six felony counts related to tax fraud. Minor is accused of submitting fraudulent income tax returns on behalf of clients of her business, Divine Vision Boutique & Tax Service, with addresses listed in Lafayette, Gretna and Marrero. Investigators say that along with the improper returns, Minor submitted false W-2 withholding forms with inflated wages and withholding amounts. The clients told investigators that they had never been employed by the individuals and entities listed on the documents, and that they had never given Minor permission to file income tax returns on their behalf. Minor faces one count of injury to public records, one count of illegal transmission of monetary funds, one count of principal to theft, one count of theft, and two counts of attempted theft. The alleged fraud in this case amounts to $36,986 in theft and $136,324 in attempted theft.

Booking Photos

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Many back-to-school expenses eligible for state income tax deductions

BATON ROUGE – The Louisiana Department of Revenue encourages families to retain their receipts while shopping for back-to-school items such as books, uniforms, supplies, and equipment required by schools. Many families will buy these items during the state’s annual sales tax holiday August 1 and 2, when most retail purchases are exempt from the 4 percent state sales tax. But they might not know these expenses may qualify also for a series of income tax deductions on their state individual income tax returns.

And these deductions apply to eligible expenses paid throughout the tax year, not only during the two-day sales tax holiday.

There are three income tax breaks under the Louisiana School Tuition and Expense Deductions:

Income Tax Deduction for Elementary and Secondary School Tuition - Allows an income tax deduction for amounts paid during the year for tuition and fees at a qualifying nonpublic elementary or secondary school. The deduction is for 100 percent of qualified expenses paid per dependent, limited to $5,000 per dependent.

Income Tax Deduction for a Quality Public Education – Allows an income tax deduction for the following expenses for a dependent enrolled in a public elementary or secondary school:

  • Purchases of school uniforms required by schools for general day-to-day use
  • Purchases of textbooks, curricula or other instructional materials required by schools
  • Purchases of school supplies required by schools

The deduction is for 50 percent of qualified expenses paid per dependent, limited to $5,000 per dependent.

Income Tax Deduction for Home-Schooling Expenses – Allows an income tax deduction for amounts paid for the purchase of textbook and curricula necessary for home-schooling. The deduction is for 50 percent of qualified expenses paid per dependent, limited to $5,000 per dependent.

These deductions can reduce your taxable income when you file your 2014 Louisiana Individual Income Tax Return by May 15, 2015. To qualify, you must be able to claim the student as a dependent on your state individual income tax return, and you must be able to document the expenses.

Visit www.revenue.louisiana.gov/schooldeduction for a full explanation of the provisions of the Louisiana School Tuition and Expense Deductions.

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Office of Debt Recovery to be fully operational within three years

BATON ROUGE – The Louisiana Office of Debt Recovery (ODR) is on schedule to be fully operational within three years, Secretary of Revenue Tim Barfield reported to the state Cash Management Review Board on Thursday.

ODR will be a highly automated, efficient, and centralized debt collection office that provides collection services for state agencies. It will include a suite of debt collection tools and will work with the Office of the Attorney General and outside collection agencies to perform collection services.

ODR was created by the Louisiana Legislature to assist state agencies in collecting overdue debts determined to be “final debt” after exhausting all administrative and legal due process. Housed in the Louisiana Department of Revenue, ODR will use new tools to identify and collect final debt payments on behalf of those agencies.

Implementation is progressing quickly, largely using LDR’s existing human and budgetary resources. “Looking at the states with state-of-the-art centralized collection operations, this implementation will be completed at least 25% and as much as 50% faster,” Barfield said.

“ODR has already implemented its electronic debt registry, significantly expanded use of an existing collection tool, implemented two new collection tools and has begun collecting debts,” Deputy Secretary of Revenue Jarrod Coniglio said.

Collection tools already in use by ODR include LDR’s state tax refund offset; financial institution data match (FIDM) that allows it to identify and levy final debt payments from the bank accounts of debtors who have exhausted their due process; and a federal vendor payment intercept program that allows ODR to collect final debt from payments owed to companies doing business with the federal government who have exhausted their due process.

Already, 281 of 340 (82%) financial institutions have signed up for participation in the FIDM program, which are estimated to cover over 90% of deposit accounts in the state.

A request for proposals (RFP) for the automated collection system is currently being developed. “Today, we’re working with manual processes, but will issue an RFP in mid-August to develop a fully automated case management system,” Coniglio said. “The automated system will be fully scalable, and will allow ODR to increase its workload with a minimum of additional human resources.”

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2014 Louisiana Annual Sales Tax Holiday: Most retail purchases exempt from state sales tax August 1 & 2

BATON ROUGE – Just in time for back-to-school shopping, most retail purchases in Louisiana are exempt from the 4 percent state sales tax on Friday, August 1, and Saturday, August 2. The 2014 Louisiana Annual Sales Tax Holiday applies to most individual consumer purchases of tangible personal property.

Conditions

The sales tax holiday exempts the first $2500 of the purchase price of each eligible item when the customer:

  • Buys and accepts delivery of eligible property;
  • Places property on layaway;
  • Acquires property that was previously placed on layaway; or
  • Places an order for immediate delivery, even if the delivery must be delayed, provided the customer has not requested delayed delivery

The sales tax holiday applies only to the 4 percent state sales tax. Local sales taxes still apply unless the local taxing authority creates its own exemption.

Exceptions

The sales tax holiday does not apply to:

  • Vehicles subject to title and license
  • Meals prepared for consumption on premises or to-go; and
  • Taxable services such as hotel occupancy, laundry services, printing services, telecommunication services, the furnishing of cold storage space, leases or rentals of tangible personal property, repairs to tangible personal property, and admission to athletic, amusement, or recreational facilities or even

Visit www.revenue.louisiana.gov/taxholiday for a full explanation of conditions of the 2014 Louisiana Annual Sales Tax Holiday.

Back-to-School Tax Deductions

The Louisiana Department of Revenue reminds shoppers to retain receipts for back-to-school items such as supplies, uniforms, and equipment required by schools. These purchases may qualify for tax deductions on 2014 Louisiana Individual Income Tax Returns due May 15, 2015. The deductions apply to educational expenses for public, private, parochial, and home schools. To claim the deductions, you must be able to claim the student as a dependent on your state individual income tax return, and you must be able to provide documentation for the expenses.

For more information about the Louisiana School Tuition and Expense Tax Deductions, visit www.revenue.louisiana.gov/schooldeduction.

 

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Misuse of state childcare tax credits leads to fraud arrests

BATON ROUGE – Two Louisiana tax preparers face felony charges for filing tax returns that investigators say improperly claimed state tax credits for childcare expenses.

Gwana White, of 308 Devon Road in LaPlace, was arrested on Tuesday, June 17, and charged with computer fraud and filing or maintaining false public records.

In an unrelated case, Ericka Lewis, of 929 Starrett Street in Metairie, was arrested also on June 17, and charged with computer fraud and filing or maintaining false public records.

White worked as a tax return preparer for Quick, Fast and EZ Tax Service, LLC in LaPlace. Lewis worked for Quick EZ Taxes of Kenner, LLC.

Each is accused of preparing returns for clients containing false information on wages earned and false claims for tax credits for childcare expenses, resulting in fraudulent state individual income tax refunds.

Gwana White’s alleged fraud cost Louisiana taxpayers $13,647.

The alleged fraud in the Ericka Lewis case amounted to $12,643.


Booking Photos:

Gwana White

Ericka Lewis

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