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Portland Tax Preparer Sentenced to Federal Prison for Filing False Tax Returns and Stealing Public Benefits

NewsOfOregonPost_DOJ

PORTLAND, Ore.—A Portland, Oregon tax return preparer was sentenced to federal prison today for preparing and filing false and fraudulent tax returns for clients and for herself.

Elizabeth Munoz, 38, was sentenced to 21 months in federal prison and three years’ supervised release. Munoz was also ordered to pay $1.8 million in restitution to the IRS and $82,400 to the Oregon Department of Human Services.

According to court documents, from 2015 to 2018, Munoz operated a federal and state income tax return preparation business from her home in Southeast Portland. Munoz advertised on business cards that she would obtain for her clients the “Biggest Refund Guaranteed.” Munoz prepared more than 1,300 false and fraudulent individual income tax returns for more than 600 clients, resulting in an approximately $1.8 million tax loss through fraudulent refunds.

Munoz used fraudulent tax schedules, tax credits, and filing statuses to carry out her refund fraud. Though Munoz charged her clients up to $150 per tax return, she reported no business income on her own personal income tax returns from 2014 through 2017, causing a $22,764 tax loss. Munoz additionally submitted six years’ worth of false applications to obtain more than $82,000 in public benefits designed to support poor and indigent community members.

On August 5, 2020, a federal grand jury in Portland returned a 25-count indictment charging Munoz with filing false income tax returns and aiding and assisting in the preparation of false income tax returns. On December 15, 2020, Munoz pleaded guilty to 13 counts of preparing and filing false income tax returns for clients and four counts of filing false income tax returns for herself.

U.S. Attorney Scott Erik Asphaug of the District of Oregon made the announcement.

This case was investigated by IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS:CI) and prosecuted by Seth D. Uram, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

IRS:CI reminds taxpayers to be careful when selecting a tax professional. Though most tax professionals provide honest, high-quality service, a minority of dishonest preparers operate each filing season perpetrating refund fraud, identity theft and other scams that hurt innocent taxpayers. Well-intentioned taxpayers can be misled by preparers who deceive people into taking credits or deductions they aren’t entitled to claim.

Resources to help taxpayers, including tips on choosing a preparer, the differences in credentials and qualifications, as well as how to submit a complaint regarding an unscrupulous tax return preparer, are available at www.irs.gov/chooseataxpro.

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