Crime - Sacto 911

Sacramento tax preparer sentenced in fraudulent refund scheme

A Sacramento tax preparer has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for a scheme that authorities say resulted in more than $650,000 in fraudulent tax refunds.

Manuel Ruiz, 47, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller for making false claims for tax refunds on federal income tax returns, according to a U.S. Attorney’s Office news release. Ruiz pleaded guilty in May.

According to court documents, Ruiz engaged in a scheme to fraudulently prepare tax returns for clients of a tax-preparation business he operated from his home. Prosecutors said Ruiz reported false wages and listed false dependents on his clients’ returns to qualify them for the earned income credit when they would not otherwise have been eligible, and to maximize the tax benefits for the credit beyond the amount for which his clients were qualified.

From tax years 2009 to 2011, Ruiz made false claims on more than 180 returns, including returns he filed on his own behalf and on behalf of others. As a result, the Internal Revenue Service paid more than $650,000 in fraudulent refunds. During that period, authorities said, Ruiz directed more than $460,000 in tax refunds from the false claims into bank accounts he controlled. After payments to clients, he retained at least $192,000 from the false claims.

Cathy Locke: 916-321-5287, @lockecathy