TAMPA — A Tampa man was arrested Jan. 19 in Belize after being indicted by a federal grand jury in Florida for helping prepare and file false tax returns.
Thomas Johnson, whose age was not provided, is facing 14 counts, each of which could bring three years in prison.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice and a copy of the indictment, between 2015 and 2017 Johnson helped at least 14 people file tax returns that “contained false and fraudulent entries as to taxpayer credits and deductions.” These returns, authorities say, led to clients receiving tax refunds they weren’t entitled to. The refunds totaled more than $155,000.
The justice department alleges Johnson charged his client a large fee and then required them to split the refunds.
In one 2015 case listed in the indictment, Johnson prepared a Form 1040 for a client identified as PU that included fraudulent schedule C deductions and false education credits. Schedule C, according to the Internal Revenue Service, is used to report income or losses from businesses run as a sole proprietor.
Because of the deductions and credits, PU received a $19,282 federal tax refund.
Johnson was arrested for immigration violations by Belizean police at his home in San Pedro, a town on Ambergris Caye, Belize’s largest island, according to a Justice Department press release. The day following his arrest, he was taken to Miami by federal agents.
He made his first court appearance Jan. 21 in Miami.