Todd Halpern, a 49-year-old tax preparer from Guttenberg, New Jersey, bought an established tax practice in 2008. He maintained the client base and prepared over 650 returns over the next several years. One problem, he filed each of those returns using the Electronic Filing Identification Number (EFIN) of the prior owner. He used the existing EFIN because he was not eligible to obtain his own due to his prior criminal record. To add to this wrongdoing, Mr. Halpern also generated fictitious refunds in excess of $374,000 and had them wired to his personal bank account. This scheme earned him a 57 month jail sentence, 5 years of probation, forfeiture of $374,000 and restitution of $1.3 million. Word to the wise, always complete your own due diligence before trusting someone with your finances.
The IRS posted a useful resource to help taxpayers choose a tax preparer based on their needs.