DES MOINES -- The Internal Revenue Service says some people of Bosnian origin are being misled concerning their income tax obligations.
The IRS cautions Bosnians to be aware of abusive return preparers who are targeting taxpayers of Bosnian ethnicity. Taxpayers should avoid any person who offers to claim false or inflated personal or business expenses, false deductions, unallowable credits, or excessive exemptions on returns. Abusive return preparers may also manipulate income figures to obtain fraudulent tax credits, such as Earned Income Tax Credit or Education Credit.
Al Patton, Special Agent in Charge of IRS Criminal Investigation in Des Moines, warns individuals to be on alert for anyone who promises to increase their refund by suggesting they file a false federal tax return. "We regret that people may be circulating misleading information in the Bosnian community, said Patton. "Its despicable that some are stealing from innocent people by charging fees to prepare what they know to be baseless claims."
IRS has found that these preparers derive financial benefit from the fraud in a number of ways, including:
· Diverting a portion of the refund for their own benefit
· Charging inflated fees for the return preparation services, and
· Increasing their clientele by advertising guaranteed larger refunds.
"Taxpayers need to keep in mind that they are ultimately responsible for their tax return," said Patton. "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is."
The filing of false claims is a felony offense under federal law. "IRS Criminal Investigation examines these schemes and prosecutes people who intentionally violate the nations federal tax laws," said Patton. Individuals filing false claims and preparers who aid and assist them could be subject to maximum punishments of 3 to 5 years in prison, plus fines up to 10,000 or 250,000 depending upon the tax violation. Each year, Criminal Investigation obtains criminal convictions for such violations, most of which include prison and monetary fines.
Anyone who suspects tax fraud or knows of an abusive return preparer can report this activity to their local IRS office, the IRS Criminal Investigation Fraud Hotline at 1-800-829-0433 or on the Internet at www.ustreas.gov/irs/ci.