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South Carolina tax preparer faces fraud allegations

With assistance from the Orangeburg Department of Public Safety, investigators from the South Carolina Department of Revenue recently arrested a 54-year-old Midlands man on charges that he prepared fraudulent tax returns between 2008 and 2012. According to the most recent reports, the tax preparer is in custody the Orangeburg-Calhoun Regional Detention Center and waiting for a bond hearing.

According to authorities, during the relevant times, the man prepared income tax returns that included bogus deductions in the form of made-up expenses and fictitious business losses. Investigators reported that the man's scheme resulted in bigger tax refunds to the man's clients that they were not entitled to receive. Authorities do not believe the tax preparer's clients were aware of his alleged fraud.

The man is facing 14 felony counts of preparing fraudulent income tax returns. If convicted, the man will likely have to serve a long prison sentence - as many as 70 years - and pay thousands of dollars in fines. Each felony tax charge carries up to 5 years in prison and fines as large as $7,000.

Preparing tax returns can be tedious, which is why many people hire accountants and tax preparers to do the job for them. Items in tax forms can be confusing, and not filling them out precisely can cause a person to be accused of a felony even if he or she simply made a mistake.

Fraud allegations are serious and carry severe penalties, including time in jail or prison and substantial fines. Allegations also can badly damage a person's finances and reputation, limiting employment opportunities and making other economic pursuits difficult.

In court, the accused has the right to mount a criminal defense against any and all charges. A solid defense that can produce the best possible result requires adequate time and thinking. The accused may consider getting help from a legal professional to validate the charges and build a solid defense.

Source: WISTV, "Midlands tax preparer charged with 14 counts of preparing fraudulent tax returns," Jason Old, Dec. 18, 2013

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