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August 23, 2022

Tax Preparer Pleads Guilty after Defrauding Clients and the Internal Revenue Service

On June 23, 2022, in the District of Utah, Grant Walker pled guilty to aiding and assisting in filing false tax returns.

According to the court documents, beginning on or around April 8, 2020, and continuing through August 2021, Walker prepared and submitted false Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Forms 7200, Advance Payment of Employer Credits Due to COVID-19, and Forms 941, Employer's Quarterly Federal Tax Return, to the IRS. Walker claimed more than $11,000,000 in Employee Retention Credits (ERC) and sick and family leave wage credits. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) allow for businesses to use ERC to retain employees on their payroll. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act requires certain employers to provide employees with paid sick leave of up to 80 hours and expanded family and medical leave of up to 10 weeks for specified reasons related to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Walker actively solicited single-member limited liability companies (LLC) to apply for the COVID-related tax credits, including the ERC and sick and family leave wages. He also actively solicited independent contractors involved in door-to-door sales, rideshare drivers, sole proprietors, and other Form 1099, MISC, Miscellaneous Income, workers to convert their “businesses” into LLCs, to allow the independent contractors to qualify for COVID-related tax credits. Walker sought ERC credits for LLCs regardless of whether the LLC was statutorily eligible to receive the ERC, resulting in false and fraudulent claims.

Additionally, without approval or prior knowledge from his clients, Walker signed his client’s names on IRS forms seeking COVID-related tax credits. The forms were submitted by Walker’s employer who then charged each client additional fees for preparing and filing the COVID-related tax credits.

At sentencing, Walker could receive a maximum term of three years’ imprisonment, a fine of $250,000, three years of supervised release, and $50,000 in restitution.

Source:  The facts in this case narrative come from the following publicly available documents: D. Utah, Felony Information, filed May 19, 2022; D. Utah, Statement in Advance of Plea of Guilty and Plea Agreement, filed June 23, 2022; and Consent to Entry of Plea of Guilty, filed June 23, 2022.