PHOENIX – An Arizona tax preparer, Roberto De La O, has been sentenced to one year of jail for preparing 118 fraudulent Arizona individual income tax returns for tax years 2014-2017. In March 2020, De La O pleaded guilty to fraudulent schemes and artifices, and two counts of preparing a false tax return.
In addition to one year of jail, De La O must pay an $18,000 fine, $46,053 in restitution payable to the Arizona Department of Revenue (ADOR), and will be placed on seven years of probation with white-collar terms.
According to ADOR, De La O prepared Arizona personal income tax returns that reported falsified income and withholding through fraudulent forms W-2 or 1099-Miscellaneous issued by Red Home LLC, a shell corporation he owned. Red Home was based in Phoenix and conducted no business. The increase of income and withholding on tax returns resulted in taxpayers illegally receiving larger returns.
De La O’s victims were unaware of the additional income reporting documents included with their returns.
According to ADOR, although taxpayers who are unaware of fraudulent entries made by their tax preparer are not subject to criminal prosecution, they are responsible for the repayment of the refund and any additional taxes that may be due along with interest.
ADOR recommends taxpayers carefully review their prepared tax returns prior to filing. This includes any schedules or income reporting forms, to ensure accuracy before filing. Taxpayers are also warned to watch out for tax preparers who promise unusually large refunds, charge a percentage of your refund rather than a flat fee.