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Former Indianapolis tax preparer sentenced for filing false returns

March 8, 2017

A former Indianapolis tax preparer has been sentenced to a year in federal prison after pleading guilty to preparing and filing false tax returns.

In U.S. District Court in Indianapolis Thursday, William Lee Brown, 39, pleaded guilty to two counts of filing and helping to prepare fraudulent tax returns. 

U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker also ordered Brown to pay almost $303,000 in restitution.

Brown also was sentenced to a year of supervised release, with six months of that period to be served on home detention.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which prosecuted the case, Brown filed 65 fraudulent tax returns between 2010 and 2012 while working as a tax preparer for Instant Tax Service, which had multiple offices in central Indiana. 

The fraudulent returns included inflated business income or losses, which meant taxpayers received refunds and earned income credits to which they were not entitled, prosecutors say. The Internal Revenue Service suffered more than $302,000 in losses as a result.

Instant Tax Service has its own history of legal issues.

In March 2012, the U.S. Justice Department went to court seeking to close ITS Financial LLC, which had its headquarters in Dayton, Ohio, and offices in Indianapolis, St. Louis, Kansas City, Chicago and Las Vegas. Franchisee David R. Franklin of Fishers owned and operated 22 Indianapolis franchise offices through his company, Instant Refund Tax Service.

In August 2013, Barker signed a legal order that permanently barred Franklin and his company from doing business.

In March 2016, Franklin pleaded guilty to instructing his employees to prepare more than 2,300 false client tax returns worth $1.5 million. Franklin has not yet been sentenced—his sentencing hearing is scheduled for May 26.

The federal government orderd ITS Financial to permanently cease operations in Nov. 2013.

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