Department of Revenue offers advice as tax-filing season begins

Staff Writer
Plaquemine Post South

BATON ROUGE – The latest arrest of a Louisiana tax preparer for state tax fraud is the thirteenth since a joint initiative between the Louisiana Department of Revenue and the Louisiana Department of Justice began in March 2013.

The investigations have uncovered more than $3 million in suspected fraud committed by tax preparers.

"As tax-filing season begins, these arrests highlight the need for Louisiana taxpayers to choose carefully when selecting a preparer," Secretary of Revenue Tim Barfield said.

In the most recent fraud case, Tamiko Dalcourt of 103 Irma Drive in Lafayette was arrested on felony counts of tax evasion, theft, filing or maintaining false public records and computer fraud.

Dalcourt is accused of preparing fraudulent returns for clients of Kevin's Tax Service, at 2700 Moss Street in Lafayette. Returns reviewed by the LDR Criminal Investigations Division included phony business losses and deductions. Some of the clients contacted by LDR said they did not even own businesses.

The Department of Revenue encourages taxpayers to be selective when choosing a tax preparer. The following steps can help you protect yourself against tax-preparer fraud:

- Try to find a preparer who will be around to answer questions after the return has been filed.

- Avoid preparers who base their fee on a percentage of the amount of the refund or who claim they can obtain larger refunds than other preparers without first reviewing your returns.

- Review and ask questions before signing a return.

- Ask others that you know who have used that preparer if they were satisfied with the services that they received.

- Ask any preparer that you are considering for references.

- Ask and verify if the preparer belongs to a professional organization that requires its members to pursue continuing education and also holds them accountable to a code of ethics.

- Always question entries on your return that you don't understand.

- Never sign a blank return.

- Insist that the preparer sign the return and provide his appropriate information on the return.

- Insist on receiving a copy of the return before it is filed.

LDR began processing 2013 Louisiana Individual Income Tax Returns Jan. 31.