Rankin County Tax Preparer Receives 20 Years for Stealing Tax Return Funds

Madison and Rankin Counties’ District Attorney Michael Guest announced today that Kushauntia Jones was sentenced to serve 20 years in the custody of the Department of Corrections after pleading guilty to Tax Evasion and Computer Fraud. Jones was set for trial and entered an open plea at the conclusion of the state’s case. She pled guilty to two counts of Tax Evasion and one count of Computer Fraud.

In June of 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 with the Department of Revenue spoke with Ms. Jones, the owner of Mobile Express Tax and Accounting Service, and the individual who signed as the tax preparer on client’s returns. Jones was unable to explain the questionable returns and was unable to provide any documentation that she relied on in preparing the returns. The only explanation she was able to offer was that she suffered a computer problem that may have incorrectly populated certain fields on the returns.

Investigators with the Department of Revenue then spoke with numerous taxpayers and found that they were unaware of the fraudulent returns submitted on their behalf. Investigators were able to determine that 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 to the Mississippi Department of Revenue and the U.S. Department of Treasury where she would increase the amount of the refund owed to the taxpayer. Jones would then direct the state and federal government to deposit the additional funds into her business account.

Investigators conducted a forensic accounting of Jones’ business and personal accounts. The accounting revealed that for 2013 and 2014 Jones had illegally collected overstated refunds in excess of $300,000. The accounting also revealed that she used the funds for personal expenses and failed to claim the amount on her personal income tax returns.

Guest stated, “I am proud to have worked with the Department of Revenue in the prosecution of Ms. Jones. This case required a tremendous amount of time to investigate and to obtain the necessary financial information needed to secure a conviction. Their hard work, along with the assistance we received from the Mississippi College School of Law, has allowed us to place a fraudulent tax preparer behind bars.”

Guest concluded, “Ms. Jones not only stole hundreds of thousands of dollars, but she has forced many hard working taxpayers to prove to the IRS that they never received the fraudulently obtained funds. While many people will claim that this is only a case of theft against the government we must not forget that there are numerous honest people whose lives have been affected by the criminal actions of Ms. Jones.”

District Attorney Michael Guest was sworn into office in January 2008 and represents the Twentieth Judicial District, Madison and Rankin Counties. For more information regarding the District Attorney’s office, follow us on Facebook, download our app or please visit www.daguest.com.

 

Defendant:

Name:                          Kushauntia LaShone Jones

Address:                       2007 Mossy Cove, Brandon

Date of Birth:              September 30, 1975