An employee who once worked at the District of Columbia's tax office has pled guilty in federal court to conspiracy to defraud the government as well as first-degree theft. These charges stem from tax crimes allegedly committed while the woman was working part-time at a Washington tax service in 2009 and 2010.The prosecutors in the case claim that the woman helped 282 people or companies file fraudulent tax returns with the District of Columbia as well as 973 fraudulent returns with the federal government. She was accused of supplying receipts for charity spending that were fraudulent so that tax filers could claim deductions. The activity took place over the 2008 and 2009 tax seasons, but some of the fraudulent refunds dated back to 2006. The total taken in the fake receipt scam has been estimated at $14.7 million.
It's hard to overstate the importance of filing a timely and accurate tax return with the IRS, but many low-income individuals and families are often hard-pressed to afford good tax advice. Yet according to the community organization Chelsea Neighborhood Developers (CND), on average, IRS tax refunds represent 9 percent of low-income households' total income for the year.