Three Jacksonville tax preparers indicted on fraud charges

Local tax preparers facing federal charges

Three Jacksonville tax preparers are facing federal charges for filing false tax returns.

The Department of Justice indicted tax preparers Paul Berkins Moise, Joanna Arlean Tukes and Schquan Antionette Shanks on federal tax fraud charges.

All the cases are unrelated, but the DOJ said they all filed false tax returns for local taxpayers.

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They allegedly claimed things like inflated charity donations to boost returns. It’s unclear if the customers were involved.

Jeffrey Gottlieb, an accounting instructor at the University of North Florida, said there are some important things you should be doing when choosing a tax preparer.

“If you were to hire a doctor to perform surgery or even someone to paint your house you have to do your homework,” said Gottlieb.

Gottlieb said to ask for your preparer’s credentials by going on the Internal Revenue Services website or checking with the Better Business Bureau.

“You want to hire either a CPA, someone with a law degree or someone who is an enrolled agent,” said Gottlieb.

An enrolled agent is someone who has taken a course sponsored by the IRS, passed an exam and is qualified to represent clients before the IRS.

Most importantly, always review your tax return before signing it, and if you hire someone to prepare your taxes, make sure they sign the return, as well.

“So, they’re on the hook, they have skin in the game,” said Gottlieb. “Be leery of anybody who is not willing to do that."

To find a qualified tax professional in your area, click HERE.