A tax return preparer in East Orange, N.J., has pleaded guilty to willfully preparing false tax returns for clients.

Toni Manning, 48, entered her plea Monday in federal court before U. S. District Judge Jose L. Linares. Manning pleaded guilty to one count of aiding and assisting in the preparation of false tax returns. Sentencing is scheduled for January.

“Knowingly falsifying tax returns filed with the IRS is a crime,” said Jonathan D. Larsen, acting special agent in charge of IRS-Criminal Investigation’s Newark Field Office, in a statement. “IRS-Criminal Investigation will continue to ensure that all tax practitioners, tax preparers and others who practice in the tax law profession adhere to professional standards and follow the law.”

According to the court proceedings, for the 2007 tax year, Manning admitted that she prepared a fraudulent tax return for one of her clients. Manning knew the client’s tax return was fraudulent because in preparing the tax return, Manning fabricated and inflated certain itemized deductions, expenses, and exemptions in order to obtain a refund in an amount greater than the client was entitled to receive, according to prosecutors.

Manning also admitted that she prepared at least 26 other fraudulent tax returns in 2007, 2008 and 2009 for clients based on fabricated and inflated itemized deductions, expenses and exemptions. The total tax loss to the government as a result of these fraudulent tax returns was approximately $83,509.

The charge of aiding and assisting in the preparation of a false tax return carries up to three years in prison and a maximum fine equal to the greatest of either $250,000, twice the gross amount of any pecuniary gain derived from the offense, or twice the gross amount of any pecuniary loss sustained by any victims of the offense.

The investigation was conducted by IRS-Criminal Investigation’s Newark Field Office under Larsen’s direction and the U.S. Attorney’s Office under the direction of U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman. The government was represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Francisco Navarro.

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