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Jacksonville tax preparer gets prison time for fraud

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A local tax return preparer has been sentenced to 18 months in federal prison for wire fraud.

Thomas Bandzul was also ordered to pay $311,824 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service, based on excessive refunds that Bandzul claimed on behalf of taxpayer clients, as well as excessive refunds that he claimed on his individual tax returns for 2008 and 2009.

Bandzul pleaded guilty in September 2014.

According to court records, from January 2008 through May 2011, Bandzul was a tax return preparer in Duval and St. Johns counties. He knowingly and willfully made false claims for deductions and credits on 32 tax returns on behalf of his clients, which resulted in additional IRS tax refunds.

As part of a scheme to defraud, Bandzul would prepare and furnish one tax return to his taxpayer clients, but would then make separate false and fraudulent claims that he actually filed electronically with the IRS, court records show. By prearranged agreement with his clients, Bandzul was to be paid a specified fee out of the anticipated IRS refunds.

In many cases, Bandzul caused the additional higher tax refunds to be paid to him without his clients' knowledge or consent.

In addition, Bandzul also committed tax fraud on his individual federal tax returns for 2008 and 2009.