Natchitoches tax preparer sentenced for filing false returns - KALB-TV News Channel 5 & CBS 2

Natchitoches tax preparer sentenced for filing false returns

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ALEXANDRIA, La. – (KALB News Channel 5) Natchitoches woman sentenced to 18 months in prison after preparing false tax returns.

United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley announced on Jan. 31, 2014, that Lashanda E. Harris, 38, of Natchitoches, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Dee D. Drell, to 18 months in prison and a year of supervised release for aiding and assisting in making and subscribing a false tax return. She was also ordered to pay $101,795 in restitution. Harris pleaded guilty Oct. 29, 2013.

According to evidence presented at the guilty plea, from Jan. 2012 to April 2012, Harris, a tax preparer in Natchitoches, assisted customers in preparing false tax returns for tax year 2011. The returns contained false information concerning W-2, federal tax withholdings, Earned Income Tax Credit and the American Opportunity Tax Credit. Based on the false statements in the tax returns, individuals were able to obtain in excess of $100,000 in fraudulent tax refunds. As part of the scheme, Harris received "kickbacks" from the customers.

The Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Seth D. Reeg prosecuted the case.

With tax filing season upon us, U.S. Attorney Stephanie Finley urged the public to also protect themselves from identity thieves. Finley said tax identity theft can occur when someone files a phony tax return using your personal information to get a tax refund from the IRS. It can also happen when someone uses a Social Security number to get a job or claims a child who is not theirs as a dependent on a tax return. Tax identity theft is the most common form of identity theft reported to the Federal Trade Commission, and the IRS has made tax identity theft a top priority.

Visit the FTC at ftc.gov/idtheft and the IRS at irs.gov/identitytheft for more information about tax identity theft.

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