Rankin County tax preparer sentenced for stealing tax refunds

Kushauntia Lashone Jones

RANKIN COUNTY, Miss. (WJTV) — A Rankin County tax preparer is sentenced for stealing tax return funds.

Madison and Rankin Counties’ District Attorney Michael Guest said 40-year-old Kushauntia LaShone Jones was sentenced to serve 20 years in prison. She pleaded guilty to tax evasion and computer fraud.

In June 2015, the Mississippi Department of Revenue began an investigation into Mobile Express Tax and Accounting Service after noticing numerous irregularities on income tax returns they prepared.

Investigators spoke with ones, the owner of the business and she wasn’t unable to explain the questionable returns. She also couldn’t provide documents she relied on in preparing the returns.

D.A. Guest said the only explanation she was able to offer was that she had a computer problem that may have incorrectly populated some areas on the returns.

Investigators spoke with numerous taxpayers and found that they were unaware of the fraudulent returns submitted on their behalf.

Investigators said Jones would prepare a written return with the proper information and would present the correct return to the taxpayer for their signature and records. Jones would then submit a fraudulent return electronically where she would increase the amount of the refund owed to the taxpayer.

Jones would then direct the state and the federal government to deposit the additional funds into her business account, officials said.

Investigators conducted a forensic accounting of Jones’ business and personal accounts. They determined that from 2013 and 2014, Jones had illegally collected overstated refunds more than $300,000. They also found out that she used the money for personal expenses and failed to claim the amount on her personal income tax returns.

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