The Department of Justice investigates tax preparer, banning him from practicing and monitoring compliance moving forward.
A federal court in the Southern District of Florida has permanently barred Nate E. Dameus, a West Palm Beach accountant, from preparing federal income tax returns and from “owning, operating, managing, assisting or working at any tax return preparation business in the future,” according to a release by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). The order also requires that Dameus send notices of the injunction to each party “for whom he prepared federal tax returns, other tax forms, or claims for refunds any time after January 1, 2018, and to advertise the government’s injunction on his social media for one year.” The DOJ will monitor compliance with the order moving forward.
The complaint brought against Dameus alleged he “prepared returns with fabricated tax withholding information” and that he “included claims for bogus unreimbursed employee business expenses like car mileage, tools, cell phone services and meals.” In addition, “Dameus routinely falsified home improvement expenses on his customers’ returns to claim residential energy credits his customers were not entitled to receive.” Dameus’s fraudulent activities resulted in “substantial losses to the Treasury,” the government said in its decision to permanently bar him from engaging in further tax preparation activities.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) allows individuals to report their tax preparers if they suspect misconduct that has impacted their return, including: “Filing an individual Form 1040 series return without your knowledge or consent.; Altering your tax return documents.; Using an incorrect filing status to generate a larger refund.; Creating false exemptions or dependents to generate a larger refund.; Creating or omitting income to generate a larger refund.; Creating false expenses, deductions or credits to generate a larger refund.; [or] Misdirecting your refund,” according to the IRS’s website.
If there has been suspected misconduct that has not impacted an individual’s return, a report can still be made in the following instances: “Failing to enter a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) on a tax return or improperly using a PTIN belonging to another individual.; Refusing to provide clients with a copy of their tax return.; Failing to sign tax returns they prepare and file.; Neglecting to return a client’s records or holding the records until the preparation fee is paid.; Preparing client returns using off-the-shelf tax software or IRS Free File, both of which are intended for use by individuals.; Falsely claiming to be an attorney, certified public accountant, enrolled agent, enrolled retirement plan agent, or enrolled actuary.; If you are a tax return preparer and discover that another tax return preparer is committing any of the practices mentioned above.” Reporting misconduct may lead to tax preparers being permanently barred from practicing.
The IRS offers a free directory of federal tax preparers online as well as a list of reminders for taxpayers to reference prior to filing to avoid issues. Over the past ten years, the DOJ said its Tax Division has filed injunctions against “hundreds of tax preparers” who have allegedly and purposefully engaged in misconduct. Thus, it is important for individuals and businesses to remain diligent about ensuring they are comfortable with the information provided to them from these preparers, and to speak up if anything seems “off.”