There is no shortage of idioms with the word “nothing.”  Phrases such as “nothing to it,” “think nothing about it,” “all or nothing” or “better than nothing” are common in the English language.  The News & Record follows a story about a manager of a Burlington tax preparation business, ironically named “Nothing But Taxes,” who was doing more than just taxes.  It turns out that she and her co-conspirators were quite adept at preparing false tax returns using stolen identities to fraudulently obtain larger tax refunds.

As manager of the Burlington branch of the tax preparation business, the defendant falsified hundreds of federal income tax returns for her clients.  The story reports that she purchased personal identification information including Social Security numbers (SSN), and then used the information to claim false dependents on fraudulently-filed tax returns with the purpose of obtaining a larger refund than her clients were entitled to get.  She charged a flat fee to prepare the returns and requested the payment in cash. (You ain’t seen nothing yet.) The manager decided to share the wealth of stolen personal information with other company employees for personal use. (How considerate of her.

A total of five tax preparers were involved in the scheme.  The ring leader pleaded guilty to one count of aiding and assisting the preparation of a false tax return, one count of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft.  She will serve nearly six years in prison and pay the federal government approximately $93,000 in restitution.  Two other employees involved in the scam were each sentenced to two years and two years and three months in prison, respectively.  The remaining two employees have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.

Protecting your personal information is a necessity because criminals will stop at nothing to want for nothing.  The cost to protect your identity from being hijacked is next to nothing compared to the cost of trying to rectify the situation after the theft has occurred.  One thing is for sure, nothing is certain but death, taxes and jail time for those who commit tax refund fraud.

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