Category: News

Washington, DC - As tax filing season begins, the Department of Justice warns taxpayers to beware of unscrupulous tax return preparers. The Department of Justice applies both civil and criminal tools at its disposal to shut down illegal tax return preparation activity. Taxpayers should always remain wary of tax return preparers who claim they can obtain larger refunds than others or engage in other unscrupulous practices.

While most tax return preparers are professional and honest, some prepare returns with false information in order to improperly boost a taxpayer’s refund or reduce their liability or to increase business and preparation fees. But, under the law, taxpayers are responsible for what is reported on their returns. When the IRS uncovers the falsehoods, the taxpayer can face penalties and interest and, if circumstances warrant, criminal prosecution.

“Fraudulent tax return preparers harm taxpayers, legitimate businesses, and the American public,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman.  “The Justice Department is committed to working with our partners at the Internal Revenue Service to protect the law-abiding American public and the treasury by stopping this fraud.”

Every year, the Justice Department’s Tax Division, in collaboration with U.S. Attorney’s Offices, files dozens of civil actions throughout the United States seeking court orders to shut down tax return preparers who allegedly prepared false tax returns, and to punish dishonest tax return preparers for their fraudulent activities. When the evidence supports criminal enforcement action, the Department of Justice and U.S. Attorney’s offices pursue criminal prosecutions of tax return preparers.

In 2019, the Justice Department has already obtained several injunctions barring individuals from filing returns for others, and filed actions against numerous others:

Examples of some recent criminal convictions obtained by the Tax Division include:

In the past decade, the Tax Division has obtained injunctions against hundreds of unscrupulous tax preparers and tax scheme promoters. Information about these cases is available on the Justice Department’s website. An alphabetical listing of persons enjoined from preparing returns and promoting tax schemes can be found here. If you believe that one of the enjoined persons or businesses may be violating an injunction, please contact the Tax Division with details.

In addition, when selecting a tax return preparer: