CHICAGO | A South Holland woman could faces up to six years in a federal prison for filing nearly 3,200 fraudulent federal income tax returns for clients, federal prosecutors said.
Verlean Hollins, 43, owner of Taxes Etc. Inc., 2311 E. 71st St., Chicago, pleaded guilty Thursday to two counts of aiding and assisting in the preparation of false federal income tax returns, according to a news release from the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. Hollins also faces a fine of $798,250 when she is sentenced on April 22 by U.S. District Court Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan.
Hollins admitted that between 2009 and 2011 she filed 3,193 individual income tax returns for clients, each of whom falsely claimed higher education tax credits, claims totaling $3.37 million. The majority of her clients paid her between $25 and $400 to prepare their returns.
The vast majority of Hollins’ clients never indicated they or a dependent were eligible for a college tuition credit, and among the small number of her clients who were eligible, none provided any documentation to support their eligibility, according to federal prosecutors.
The Internal Revenue Service issued a warning to would-be tax cheats Thursday.
“With the tax season upon us, I want to assure taxpayers that the IRS Criminal Investigation Division is focused on protecting revenue by identifying and investigating abusive tax return preparers,” said James Lee, special agent-in-charge of the IRS Criminal Investigation Division in Chicago. “While most return preparers are honest and provide excellent service, a few unscrupulous tax preparers file false returns to defraud their clients and the United States government. Today, we remind dishonest return preparers we are watching your activities.”