Federal Court Permanently Shuts Down Florida Tax Return Preparer for Defrauding Customers, the Government

The IRS audited 340 of the tax returns that St. Phard prepared and found that he understated the tax owed on all but five of the them

Federal Court Permanently Shuts Down Florida Tax Return Preparer for Defrauding Customers, the Government
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July 1, 2016

A federal court in Fort Lauderdale, Florida has permanently banned a Broward County-based tax preparer from preparing federal tax returns for others.

The United States Department of Justice (USDOJ) filed a civil complaint against Eli St. Phard in April. The complaint alleged that St. Phard prepared income tax returns that fraudulently understated his customers' tax liabilities by falsely claiming deductions for business expenses his customers never incurred, or fraudulently overstating his customers' claims for refunds by falsely claiming education or fuel tax credits to which his customers were not entitled—or both.

According to the USDOJ's complaint, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) audited 340 of the tax returns that St. Phard prepared and found that he understated the tax owed on all but five of the 340 returns—a total of more than $1.8 million in understatements. As a result of St. Phard's fraudulent activities, many of his customers are now liable for significant tax deficiencies, penalties and interest.

In addition to barring St. Phard from preparing federal tax returns, the court ordered him to provide the government with a list of all his customers.

St. Phard consented to entry of the order by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. He admitted, for purposes of this case, that he had engaged in conduct subject to penalty under the federal tax laws, but did not admit to civil or criminal wrongdoing or to the specific allegations in the complaint.

Return preparer fraud is one of the IRS's Dirty Dozen Tax Scams for 2016. The agency offers some helpful tips on its website for choosing a tax preparer and has also launched a free directory of federal tax preparers.

In the past decade, the USDOJ's Tax Division has obtained injunctions against hundreds of dishonest tax preparers. Information about these cases is available on the Department's website.

An alphabetical listing of all persons that have been barred from preparing tax returns and promoting tax schemes can be found here. If you believe that one of these individuals or businesses may be violating an injunction order, contact the Tax Division .