Tithe or Tax?

Blank notepad with tax form and calculator on white table. Top view. Space for text.

Two brothers formerly of Utah, who claimed to be tax preparers, were sentenced to two years in prison each for conspiracy to file false tax claims. The brothers filed over 700 false tax returns for themselves and for others over six years, according to the U.S. Justice Department. The duo ultimately claimed over $9.7 million in false refunds from the IRS. (That amounts to an average return of $13,857 per customer. I’d bet the two brothers were very popular around tax time each year.)

According to their indictment, the brothers operated their fraudulent tax preparation service out of a Hildale business they co-owned called Most Wanted Jeans (O.K. Let’s just pause right there. Just the name of the business would have alerted the IRS that something was up. Could they not think of something better?)

 “The defendants added false entries to tax returns to trigger the Earned Income Tax Credit or added false figures for federal income tax withholdings, Form 1099-OID income tax withholdings, or Schedule C business expenses in order to fraudulently increase the amount of the claimed refunds,” a Justice Department news release says. (Think of all the tax form entries they had to falsify for each of 700 tax returns. I suppose they thought the IRS would not catch their lies.)

 The brothers made a nice income by allegedly collecting about 10 percent of each client’s refund. Do that math and you come up with $970,000 they kept for themselves. (Although, the article hinted that they gave most of the refund money to their church.)

A U.S. District Court judge ordered the brothers to serve three years of supervised release and pay over $5.3 million in restitution. (Just a recommendation–watch out for random lightning bolts.)s

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from the article, “Utah brothers sentenced to 2 years in tax fraud case,” published Sept. 25, 2019 on the KSL-TV website.

SALT LAKE CITY — Two Utah brothers who claimed to be legitimate tax preparers were sentenced Tuesday to 24 months in prison each for conspiracy to file false claims, the U.S. Department of Justice announced.

Alma and Denver Barlow, formerly of Hildale, Utah, filed over 700 false tax returns for themselves and for clients between 2009 and 2014, according to a Justice Department news release. The brothers ultimately claimed over $9.7 million in false refunds from the IRS.

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Larry Benson
Larry Benson is currently the Director of Strategic Alliances for Revenue Discovery and Recovery at LexisNexis Risk Solutions. In this role, Benson is responsible for developing partnerships for the tax and revenue and child support enforcement verticals. He focuses on embedded companies that have a need for third-party analytics to enhance their current offerings.