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Tax Preparer Sentenced to Federal Prison as Tax Season Begins

Tax Preparer Sentenced to Federal Prison as Tax Season Begins

Just as the IRS confirmed that this year's tax season will officially begin on January 23, a former tax preparer has been sentenced to federal prison.

Credit: Charles O'Rear/Getty Images

According to an official release from the Internal Revenue Service, Jeannette Villarreal originally pleaded guilty to falsely preparing and filing income tax returns on July 6, 2022.

U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos has now sentenced Villarreal, who had no prior criminal history, to 18 months in federal prison along with a $15,000 fine. Per the IRS, Judge Ramos stated that Villarreal engaged in "extensive criminal activity" and recruited her two daughters to assist with her scheme. Ultimately, the Judge concluded that a prison sentence was necessary "to provide just punishment and afford adequate deterrence."

Villarreal's daughters, Leannette Villarreal and Zeannette Salazar, have also been convicted for the involvement.

The Villarreal family prepared taxes under the business name of J&G Armadillo's Tax Service AKA Reals Tax Service. 

On numerous occasions, the trio knowingly reported false earnings, made-up charitable contributions, and ineligible tax credits to increase their clients' refunds. The returns often claimed that taxpayers were permitted to claim credits and deductions for which they did not qualify.

Credit: Olga Ihnatsyeva/Getty Images

Special Agent in Charge Ramsey E. Covington of IRS - Criminal Investigation's Houston Field Office urged Americans to be vigilant this tax filing season, "These three tax preparers not only betrayed the trust of their clients, who counted on them to prepare accurate returns, they betrayed the trust of all taxpaying Americans."

"As we enter the 2023 tax filing season, I implore all taxpayers who plan to hire a third-party to prepare and file their tax return to choose their preparer wisely and ask questions before and during the preparation process," he continued, "Finally, always ensure everything on your tax return is both correct and legitimate before signing the return, or Form 879 - IRS e-File Signature Authorization, and submitting the return to the IRS."

What do you think about this tax preparer going to prison?

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Rebekah Barton

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