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February 17, 09

NEWS / Justice Department Seeks to Shut Down Sacramento Tax Preparation Firm

Firm Allegedly Fabricated Deductions Based on Sham Partnerships; Told Customers IRS was Unlikely to Detect Them

WASHINGTON – The United States has sued a Sacramento, Calif., tax preparer, Chris Elmer, his firm – Associated Tax Planners Inc. (ATP) – and several members of his family associated with ATP, seeking to bar them all permanently from the tax-preparation business, the Justice Department announced today. The civil injunction suit was filed in Sacramento with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California.

The complaint alleges that ATP prepares thousands of federal income tax returns for individuals and businesses each year, and repeatedly claims false or inflated business deductions. Many of the deductions are allegedly claimed as purported business expenses of sham partnerships. The complaint alleges that in many instances the defendants claimed purported partnership business losses on customers’ individual tax returns regardless of whether the customers actually had a partnership or other business enterprise.

The complaint further alleges that the defendants and their customers often do not file a corresponding partnership return when the customers report partnership losses on their individual returns. The defendants also allegedly fabricate phony Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax identification numbers for the partnerships to conceal their sham nature.

The defendants allegedly told customers and other tax preparers that the IRS is unlikely to detect the defendants’ deductions because the IRS is unlikely to audit a small partnership. Chris Elmer allegedly told one customer that this made a small partnership an ideal vehicle in which to "tuck" personal expenses as business-expense deductions.

"The public should beware of tax preparers who claim to know how to hide deductions from the Internal Revenue Service," said John DiCicco, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Tax Division. "Taxpayers should carefully review their returns before they are filed with the IRS."

Over the past decade, the Justice Department has obtained injunctions against more than 370 tax preparers and tax-fraud promoters. Information about these cases is available on http://www.usdoj.gov/tax/.



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