Justice Department Seeks to Shut Down Southern Florida Tax Return Preparer


The United States has filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida seeking to bar a Belle Glade, Florida, tax return preparer from owning or operating a tax return preparation business and preparing tax returns for others, the Justice Department announced today.

The civil suit against Brandhi Shaw alleges that Shaw prepares returns claiming false refundable fuel credits and American Opportunity tax credits. In addition, the complaint alleges that Shaw prepares returns claiming fabricated businesses income and/or expenses, and related fictitious losses. As a result, the complaint alleges Shaw offset the amount of taxable income reported to make it appear that her customers were entitled to earned income tax credits when they were not.

For example, the complaint alleges that Shaw prepared a return for an individual who did not own a business nor tell Shaw that he or she did. As alleged in the complaint, Shaw claimed a fabricated loss of $37,413 for the non-existent business, which fraudulently reduced the amount of the individual’s taxable income and, in return, his or her reported tax liability.

The complaint further alleges that, by repeatedly underreporting tax liabilities and claiming bogus refunds on behalf of her customers, Shaw has caused her customers to incorrectly report their federal tax liabilities and underpay their taxes, resulting in lost tax revenue to the United States that could exceed $6 million. Moreover, the complaint alleges that Shaw is not and never has been an enrolled return preparer. Rather, according to the complaint, she files tax returns using another tax preparer’s personal identifying information, which makes it difficult to determine the full extent of the harm she has caused.

Return preparer fraud is one of the IRS’ Dirty Dozen Tax Scams and taxpayers seeking a return preparer should remain vigilant (more information can also be found here). The IRS has information on its website for choosing a tax preparer and has launched a free directory of federal tax preparers. In addition, IRS Free File, a public-private partnership, offers free online tax preparation and filing options on IRS partner websites for individuals whose adjusted gross income is under $72,000. For individuals whose income is over that threshold, IRS Free File offers electronical federal tax forms that can be filled out and filed online for free.

In the past decade, the Justice Department's Tax Division has obtained injunctions against hundreds of unscrupulous tax preparers. Information about these cases is available on the Justice Department website. An alphabetical listing of persons enjoined from preparing returns and promoting tax schemes can be found this page. If you believe that one of the enjoined persons or businesses may be violating an injunction, please contact the Tax Division with details.

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