IRS goes after local tax preparer
STANDISH TWP. — The Internal Revenue Service is cracking down on fraudulent tax returns, and a Standish Township tax preparer apparently is one of its targets.
According to a press release from the IRS, Sally Scheall was indicted last week in U.S. District Court in Flint. The IRS has alleged 123 counts of willfully aiding and assisting in the preparation of false and fraudulent tax returns, 122 counts of wire fraud, and one count of attempted wire fraud.
Aiding and assisting in the preparation of false and fraudulent tax returns carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison and fines totaling up to $250,000 per count. Wire fraud and attempting to commit wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of twenty years and $250,000 per count.
The alleged crimes were committed between 2004 and2006, when Scheall is charged with preparing 123 tax returns claiming false deductions that taxpayers were not entitled to claim.
The press release said the improper deductions cost the government over $230,000.
U.S. Attorney Stephen J. Murphy said, “It should not need to be repeated that federal criminal charges involving tax preparation specialists filing false tax returns are of the utmost gravity. We will take all appropriate actions against those who prepare fraudulent tax returns.”
Scheall could not be reached for comment.
Stephen Moore, media contact for the IRS, said the agency categorizes such cases as “abusive tax preparers.”
According to the IRS Web site, abusive tax preparers usually receive a punishment of up to 19 months in a federal prison.
Scheall was released by the court on a $25,000 unsecured bond.
The next step for Scheall, who is being represented by Kenneth R. Sasse, a federal defense attorney from Saginaw, is a pretrial conference scheduled on March 14.
Moore added that the IRS discovers abusive tax preparers with fraud detection centers and special investigative techniques.
“It’s been an area that we’ve been very active in for awhile,” Moore said.
Moore also said that taxpayers who deal with abusive tax preparers often feel the financial impact of fraud somewhere down the road.
“These taxpayers may have to pay the money back, plus interest and fees,” Moore said.
He also offered up ways to avoid getting caught in fraudulent practices.
“Go over the tax return. A legitimate tax preparer is going to go over the numbers with you,” Moore said, adding that abusive preparers may list charitable contributions for their clients even if none were made.
“You’re going to know if you made a large, charitable contribution or not.
“Never sign a blank tax return,” Moore added.
Moore also urged caution when using tax preparers who work for a percentage of the return, saying that these preparers often try to get clients inflated returns in order to increase their earnings and get more client referrals.
For more information on the IRS and tax crimes, go to www.irs.gov.