Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Fraudulent Homebuyer Tax Credits Being Eyed by the IRS, Fines “Steep”

From Inman News:

The Internal Revenue Service says a Jacksonville, Fla.-based tax preparer is the first to be convicted of fraud related to the federal first-time homebuyer tax credit.

James Otto Price III, 47, pleaded guilty on July 23 to falsely claiming the first-time homebuyer credit on a client’s federal tax return, the IRS said. He faces up to three years in jail and a fine of up to $250,000 when he is sentenced.

Price was indicted in May on 35 tax-fraud counts, including 15 involving the first-time homebuyer tax credit, The Florida Times-Union reported. Most of Price's clients were unaware he was claiming the credit on their behalf and paying himself a $1,000 fee from their electronic refunds, a prosecutor told the paper.

In announcing Price's conviction, the IRS claimed to have "a number of sophisticated computer screening tools" to identify tax returns that may contain fraudulent claims for the tax credit. The IRS says it has executed seven search warrants and currently has 24 open criminal investigations of potential instances of fraud involving the credit.

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