- Associated Press - Monday, September 28, 2015

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - The Louisiana Department of Revenue says a Gretna tax preparer is the 50th person arrested in statewide tax fraud crackdown.

The department says Joyce Gaines of Harvey and two of her employees were booked last week with wire fraud and filing or maintaining false public records.

A news release Monday alleged that phony business losses for hundreds of clients cost the state more than $250,000 in fraudulent state income tax refunds. Many of those purported losses were for clients who did not own businesses, according to department spokeswoman Kizzy Payton.

The phone listed for Gaines’s business, Tax Town LLC of Gretna, was out of service Monday. A call for comment to a Joyce Gaines in Harvey was not immediately returned.

Online sheriff’s office records indicate that Gaines was released on $10,000 bond after being booked Thursday in Baton Rouge.

The Department of Revenue hired two full-time investigators and assigned them to work with the state Department of Justice in March 2013 because data indicated that tax fraud was on the rise, according to the Department of Revenue statement.

Seventeen of those arrested have been convicted and the state has recovered $416,638 in court-ordered restitution of fraudulent refunds, Payton said.

She said the Department of Revenue has saved taxpayers more than $50 million since 2014 through identity verification, restitution payments, investigation collections, refund desk audits and reviews, and a program to prevent fraudulent refunds.

Payton noted that even if someone else prepares your tax return, you are legally accountable for its content and are responsible for repaying any fraudulent refunds.

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