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Unregistered Tax Preparer Pleads Guilty to Filing Fraudulent Returns for Employees and Friends Buffalo-area woman, who also operated day care facility, agrees to pay $19,000

For Release: Immediate,

For press inquiries only, contact: James Gazzale, 518-457-7377

The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance today announced the guilty plea of an unregistered tax preparer in Buffalo who was filing fraudulent tax returns for employees and other acquaintances at her now shuttered day care center.

Shonnell Harris, 48, of 54 Pine Ridge Road, Buffalo, pleaded guilty to criminal tax fraud, a felony, in Erie County Court on Monday, March 27. She also agreed to pay more than $19,000 for the amount of illegal proceeds she received from filing the fraudulent returns. Harris, who failed to register as a paid preparer, filed fraudulent returns for employees of the day care facility she operated, Shay Tiny Tot Daycare, also in Buffalo. 
  
“When a paid tax preparer files fraudulent returns and fails to register, it shows blatant disregard for New York State laws, betrays the trust of clients, and damages the reputation of an entire industry of tax professionals,” said Acting Commissioner Nonie Manion. "Our investigators will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to hold unscrupulous preparers accountable for their crimes."

Harris faces a possible sentence of up to 4 years in prison.

New York is one of just four states that regulate the tax preparer industry. Taxpayers who use the services of paid tax preparers are entitled to protection from unfair treatment. The Consumer Bill of Rights Regarding Tax Preparers describes your rights and contains important information about how to protect yourself from unfair practices.

If you're aware of a tax preparer who has engaged in illegal or improper conduct, you can file a tax preparer complaint online or contact the NYS Tax Department at 518-530-HELP (option #2). The information is kept confidential. The Tax Department takes this type of illegal activity seriously, promptly reviews each complaint, and takes corrective action when appropriate.

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