BOSTON — A veteran employee of the Internal Revenue Service Service Center in Andover has been accused of filing more than 500 false tax returns for herself and other people.
Jennifer Beth True, 44, of Lawrence, faces charges of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. She appeared in U.S. District Court on Tuesday and was released pending her next court date.
True has been employed by the IRS for more than 22 years. In her current position as a lead contact representative, she assists team members in answering difficult inquiries from taxpayers, according to documents filed with the court.
Throughout her employment, she has been trained in tax law, ethics, information protection and disclosure, privacy, identity theft and identity protection.
True electronically filed 591 tax returns for herself and other taxpayers between 2012 and 2017, in violation of IRS rules prohibiting employees from “engaging in the preparation of tax returns for compensation, gift, or favor,” according to U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling.
True received between $40 and $100 per return. She prepared the vast majority of them on her personal computer and used TaxAct software.
The investigation further revealed that between February 2012 and April 15, 2018, True prepared at least 70 IRS Forms 1040 for taxpayers that included false individual retirement account deductions and medical expenses, inflated unreimbursed business expenses and phony tax preparation fees, Lelling said.
Some returns included false child and dependent care credits, he added. Additionally, True amended one taxpayer’s returns for three prior years to claim false deductions, according to documents.
Numerous taxpayers told investigators they had not provided True with the false information and that they did not know that she was including it on the returns she prepared.
One taxpayer whose return True completed wrote to her, "Reviewing our IRS statement that you prepared I realized that 75% of what you documented is untrue/mistakes, etc. ... So I'm meeting with the IRS about this issue so you will probably be contacted," according to an affidavit filed with the court.
Besides these allegations, on or about Feb. 15, 2015, True electronically filed her own IRS Form 1040 for 2014. She claimed seven dependents, including a taxpayer who was not her dependent and who had paid True to prepare and file her tax returns, according to the U.S. attorney.
As a result of claiming the taxpayer as a dependent, True’s tax obligation for 2014 was reduced. This taxpayer never gave True permission to claim her as a dependent, Lelling said.
The charge of wire fraud carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and as much as a $250,000 fine.
Aggravated identity theft is punishable by a mandatory prison term of two years in prison, to be served consecutively with any other sentence imposed; up to one year of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000.
Lelling, William Kalb, special agent in charge of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, New York field office; and Kristina O’Connell, special agent in charge of IRS criminal investigations in Boston, announced the charges against True on Tuesday.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Kristina Barclay of the Public Corruption Unit of the U.S. Attorney's Office is prosecuting the case.
The conditions of True's release include no travel outside New England and no contact with her alleged victims.