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Baltimore Sun: Two tax preparers plead guilty to filing false returns

Two Baltimore-area tax preparers pleaded guilty to filing false returns, Maryland’s attorney general and comptroller said Tuesday.

The operator of MK Tax Service, Michael Anegbode, 29, of Windsor Mill, pleaded guilty to three counts of filing false income tax returns, Attorney General Brian E. Frosh and Comptroller Peter Franchot said. Anegbode was ordered to pay $48,808 in restitution and serve three years’ probation.

The operator of Jovan Tax Service, Uwagbale Oigbokie, 39, of Baltimore, pleaded guilty to two counts of filing false tax returns. He was ordered to pay $81,712 in restitution and serve two years’ probation, the announcement said.

The criminal investigations division of the attorney general’s office prosecuted the cases, which represent the state’s latest effort to uncover fraudulent tax schemes.

Over the past few years, Franchot’s office has blocked tax returns from dozens of tax preparers because of high volumes of questionable returns. In those cases, regulators flagged returns for reasons such as reporting business income for taxpayers who don’t own a business, requesting refund amounts significantly higher than in previous years and including inflated and undocumented business expenses and questionable claims for dependents.

In the recent cases, both tax preparers filed personal tax returns that failed to report fees they earned. Many of the returns filed for clients included false information that minimized the clients’ Maryland tax liabilities and boosted their tax refunds.

“These tax preparers had a responsibility to file honest returns,” Frosh said. “They cheated twice.”

Franchot called protecting state taxpayers from unscrupulous tax preparers a top priority.

“Our field enforcement officers will continue to vigilantly investigate those who try to cheat our state,” the comptroller said.

Each of the preparers who pleaded guilty ran single locations.

“Whether a preparer has multiple locations or single, the crime is still the crime,” said Raquel Coombs, a spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office. “We’re still going to go after them and prosecute them. Essentially, they’re all stealing from the state.”

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