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Louisiana relatives face equal penalties for tax fraud charges

The Internal Revenue Service comes down hard on individuals and businesses that break tax laws. While the government has a right to expect every dime of taxpayer revenue due, federal prosecutors can level serious allegations against Baton Rouge residents who simply make honest mistakes. That's why personal or business IRS audits inspire such fear even when accused individuals know they are innocent.

Penalties for tax evasion or fraud can be severe, like the possible sentences two Destrehan women now face. A 46-year-old mother and her 29-year-old daughter recently entered guilty pleas to tax fraud charges. Each woman may be imprisoned up to 10 years and each could be liable for a fine as high as $250,000, in addition to restitution.

Federal prosecutors said the St. Charles Parish family members opened a LaPlace income tax service in 2008. During the short time River Parish Tax Professionals was in operation, from December 2008 to June 2009, the women allegedly used false claims to collect $1.8 million from the IRS.

Investigators said the tax service promised clients they'd benefit from a government stimulus program. The women gathered the customers' personal data and used it to file about 300 tax returns without the clients' knowledge. The returns claimed refunds the taxpayers weren't qualified to receive including earned income tax credits and first-time homebuyer credits -- a limited program of $7,500 refunds for people who bought homes during 2008 and 2009.

The mother initially denied any ownership in River Parish Tax Professionals. The older women allegedly used a fake identification number when filing the returns, to keep the IRS from finding out she had been accused of tax fraud in the past. The defendants reportedly used the refunds for gambling money.

People charged with of white collar crimes are often guilty of financial errors but not lawbreaking. A criminal defense attorney can make sure the government knows the difference.

Source: The New Orleans Advocate, "Mother, daughter from Destrehan plead guilty to $1.8 million tax fraud scheme" Richard Thompson, Jun. 17, 2014

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