A former tax return preparer has been sentenced to 151 months in prison for participating in a tax fraud scheme to hide income and assets in bogus trusts, according to the U.S. Justice Department.
Louis Wayne Ratfield, who operated LWR Accounting and Tax Service, and later LWR Financial Services Trust, in Lake Worth, Fla., is facing the jail sentence. U.S. District Court Judge Daniel T.K. Hurley in West Palm Beach, Fla., also sentenced Ratfield to five years of supervised release and ordered him to pay $40,000 for the cost of prosecution.
A federal jury in West Palm Beach, Fla., found Ratfield guilty on 50 counts in April. Federal prosecutors accused Ratfield of advising clients to set up "common law trusts" in which they could claim deductions for ordinary living expenses on their returns, including the costs of food, utilities, clothing, vehicles and education.
Ratfield marketed the trusts nationwide via group seminars and client meetings, selling more than 100 trust packages at prices of $2,995 to $5,995 each. The Justice Department estimates the scheme cost the U.S. Treasury over $9.3 million.
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