South Florida Tax Preparer Shut Down by Federal Court for Fraud

According to the complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Jessyca Bernard, of Lauderhill, Florida, owned and operated Proper Taxes, Inc. in Miami Gardens. She allegedly fabricated losses for her customers’ side businesses in order to secure refunds to which her customers were not entitled. In one example cited in the complaint, Bernard prepared a customer’s tax returns that reported losses of more than $27,000 and $22,000 based upon fictitious expenditures for supplies, utilities, and medical expenses. In another example, Bernard prepared a customer’s return that fabricated more than $11,000 in losses, including $8,000 in supplies for the customer’s side business of washing cars on weekends.

Yesterday, a federal court in Miami granted a permanent injunction barring Jessyca Bernard from Lauderhill, Florida, from preparing federal tax returns for others. The civil injunction order, to which Bernard agreed, was signed by Chief Judge K. Michael Moore of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

According to the complaint, Bernard worked as a paid tax preparer since at least 2012 when she started working as a paid return preparer at Instant Tax Service. She opened her own business, Proper Taxes, Inc., in 2013 after Instant Tax Service was permanently enjoined from tax preparation. Bernard and/or employees under her supervision prepared and filed 3,744 tax returns between 2013 and 2017.

A review by the IRS of returns filed for Bernard’s customers allegedly uncovered a high rate of errors. The IRS reviewed 491 tax returns prepared and/or filed by Bernard between 2013 and 2017. Of that number 400 (or over 80%) understated the tax actually owed by the taxpayer or overstated the refund due to the taxpayer. The complaint asserts that Bernard’s clients were unaware of the fabricated information Bernard used to understate the tax that was actually due.

Based on the returns it examined, the IRS estimated that the United States lost millions of dollars in tax revenue from Bernard’s consistent understatement of liabilities and/or overstatement of refunds.

Return preparer fraud was one of the IRS’s Dirty Dozen Tax Scams for 2018. In the past decade, the Tax Division has obtained injunctions against hundreds of unscrupulous tax preparers.

Read the full complaint here: United States v. Jessyca Bernard