St. James tax preparer faces felony charges for fraud scheme

St. James tax preparer faces felony charges for fraud scheme

EAST BATON ROUGE PARISH, LA (WAFB) - A St. James Parish tax preparer is facing felony charges for allegedly fabricating companies that do not exist.

Warren Lavern Bryant of Lutcher is accused of submitting state income tax returns that reflect phony business losses, which improperly reduced his clients' taxable income, resulting in illegally inflated refunds.

Auditors with the Louisiana Department of Revenue noticed a suspicious pattern in returns Bryant submitted in 2015. Investigators were able to determine that none of the clients whose returns they examined had claimed business losses when they gave Bryant their tax records. In fact, none of them had even ever owned a business.

Reporting fabricated losses is a tactic frequently used by unscrupulous tax preparers who attempt to gain more business by promising larger than expected refunds to clients.

Bryant's alleged fraud scheme cost Louisiana taxpayers an estimated $116,325. Bryant was arrested on Tuesday, February 7 and was booked into the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on charges of principal to filing or maintaining false public records and principal to illegal transmission of monetary funds.

According to the Department of Revenue, Bryant is the 65th person arrested under a joint anti-tax fraud initiative by the department and the state Attorney General's office.

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