A federal court in the Eastern District of New York has permanently enjoined a tax return preparer and her Brooklyn-based business from preparing federal tax returns for others and from owning, operating, or working for any tax return preparation business in the future.
The civil complaint filed in the case alleged that Melida Portorreal, through her tax return preparation company, International Travel Multi & Tax Corp., prepared fraudulent federal income tax returns for others. According to the complaint, Portorreal prepared and filed fraudulent federal tax returns for others that included the following schemes:
- reporting false filing statuses, including, in at least one instance, using one customer’s name and social security number to qualify another customer for Head of Household filing status without either customer’s knowledge or consent;
- fabricating erroneous itemized deductions to reduce taxable income, including false student loan interest deductions, false educator expense deductions, and false employee business expense deductions;
- fabricating business expenses; and
- claiming non-deductible expenses on customers’ tax returns in order to obtain entitlement to the earned income tax credit and the child tax credit.
The complaint alleges the IRS estimated that Portorreal filed returns due for the 2018, 2019, and 2020 tax years that caused losses to the United States exceeding $1 million in each year.
According to the court’s order, Portorreal and her company consented to entry of the injunction, which permits the United States to conduct post-judgment discovery to monitor compliance with the injunction. The order requires that they (1) send notice of the injunction to each person for whom Portorreal and her company prepared federal tax returns, amended tax returns, or claims for refund from February 25, 2021 through May 31 2022, and (2) post an electronic copy of the injunction on any business social media profile currently maintained or created over the next five years.
Deputy Assistant Attorney General David A. Hubbert of the Justice Department’s Tax Division made the announcement.
Shady tax return preparers remain a concern of the IRS, which recently warned taxpayers about unscrupulous tax return preparers are part of the IRS’s Dirty Dozen series. Taxpayers seeking a return preparer should remain vigilant against unscrupulous tax preparers. The IRS has information on its website for choosing a tax return preparer and has launched a free directory of federal tax preparers. The IRS also offers 10 tips to avoid tax season fraud and ways to safeguard their personal information.