Be Cautious When Choosing A Tax Preparer: Two Maryland Tax Preparers Guilty of Filing False Returns

By Glen Frost, Managing Partner and Mary Lundstedt, Esq., AssociateThe Comptroller’s Field Enforcement Division and the Criminal Investigations Division of the Maryland Attorney General’s Office, working in tandem, investigated and prosecuted two more Maryland tax preparers—resulting in guilty pleas. On July 24, 2018, Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh and Comptroller Peter Franchot announced that two tax preparers operating in the Baltimore area pleaded guilty to filing false tax returns.Both Maryland officials report that, Michael Anegbode, pleaded guilty to three counts of filing false income tax returns. Anegbode was sentenced to three years’ probation and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $48,808. Uwagbale Oigbokie pleaded guilty to two counts of filing false tax returns. He faces two years’ probation and must pay $81,712 in restitution.According to officials, these preparers cheated on two levels. First, they prepared returns for their clients which included false information in order to minimize their clients’ tax liability and increase their refunds. Next, the preparers filed false personal income tax returns for themselves—omitting fees which they earned by preparing and filing their clients’ false returns. Attorney General Frosh, stated:”They cheated twice. They falsely understated the taxes owed by their clients, and then they did not report the fees that they earned themselves.”In recent years, the Comptroller’s office has increased its efforts to combat tax fraud. Maryland’s Taxpayer Protection Act of 2017 expanded the role of the Comptroller’s Field Enforcement Bureau by adding admissions and amusement tax, income tax, and sales and use tax to the list of laws within enforcement agents’ jurisdiction. Furthermore, the Comptroller now regularly publishes and updates lists—on its publicly accessible website—of suspended tax preparers. Listed tax preparers are suspended from their return filing privileges upon the Comptroller’s finding that it has received a “high volume of questionable returns” from the preparers. In February of 2018, Comptroller Franchot stated:

“My top-notch Questionable Return Detection Team is vigilant in rooting out returns that try to cheat the state and steal money from hardworking Marylanders.”

Along with the announcement of the two guilty pleas, the Comptroller gives every indication that its efforts will remain strong. Franchot emphasized that, “[o]ur Field Enforcement officers will continue to vigilantly investigate those who try to cheat our state and I want to thank the Attorney General’s Office for its partnership and its efforts prosecuting these cases.”