Justice Department Seeks to Shut Down Florida Tax Return Preparer

The United States filed a civil injunction suit to bar Karla Welch and her businesses, Karla R. Welch LLC and Kwik Services LLC, from owning or operating a tax preparation business and preparing tax returns. The complaint also requests that the court require the defendants to disgorge the fees they obtained by preparing false and fraudulent tax returns.

The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, alleges that Welch, through Karla R. Welch LLC and Kwik Services LLC, owns and operates a tax preparation business with as many as 12 stores in Florida, Georgia and North Carolina. According to the complaint, Welch and her businesses prepare and file tax returns to falsely increase their customers’ refunds, and profit through high and often undisclosed preparation fees at the expense of their customers and the Treasury. The complaint alleges that the defendants prepared returns for customers that:

            •           Falsely claim the Earned Income Tax Credit

            •           Report fabricated businesses and related business income and expenses

            •           Report fabricated deductions, including for purported job-related expenses

            •           Claim false education credits

Deputy Assistant Attorney General David A. Hubbert of the Justice Department’s Tax Division made the announcement.

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, has launched a free directory of federal tax preparers and offers information on how to avoid “ghost” tax preparers, whose refusal to sign a return should be a red flag to taxpayers. The IRS also has a checklist of things to remember when filing income tax returns in 2022.

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. The IRS has tips on how seniors and individuals with low to moderate income can get other help or guidance on tax return preparation, too.

In the past decade, the Tax Division has obtained injunctions against hundreds of unscrupulous tax preparers. Information about these cases is available on the Justice Department’s 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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