2 Columbus tax preparers plead guilty in fake tax return scheme

2 Columbus tax preparers plead guilty in fake tax return scheme

COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Two tax preparers pleaded guilty to a fake tax return scheme.

Keven Walker, 33, of Columbus pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of identity theft on August 13. Tiffany Gist, also known as Tiffany Walker, 46, of Columbus pleaded guilty to the same charges on July 23.

According to the United States Department of Justice, Walker was the owner of Walker Tax Financial Group, a tax preparation business in Columbus. In 2013, IRS agents discovered that Walker and Gist filed 126 fraudulent tax returns, attempting to steal approximately $216,684 in refunds.

Per Walker’s signed plea agreement, they used one victim’s correct social security number to file a phony tax return, but the address and W-2 form were false. Victims also signed affidavits stating they never did business with the defendants and did not authorize them to file tax returns.

“Dishonest tax return preparers will be held accountable for filing fictitious returns and stealing from taxpayers,” said Charles “Charlie” Peeler, the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. “Protecting the integrity of our tax system is important, and all citizens must play by the same rules. I want to thank the IRS investigators for their good work in this case and helping shut down these unscrupulous tax return preparers.”

Walker and Gist face up to 20 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine for wire fraud and a mandatory two-year sentence for identity theft. They will be sentenced at a later date.

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