Justice Department: 3 Columbia area tax service offices inflated refunds

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The Justice Department has accused three Columbia-area Liberty Tax Service franchises of deliberately preparing false federal income tax returns to increase their customers’ refunds.

News outlets report that federal investigators filed a lawsuit Tuesday to permanently bar Christopher Paul Haynes, of Irmo, from preparing federal tax returns for others.

The lawsuit says Haynes has been the franchisee for all three locations since 2008.

Investigators believe that Haynes’ offices have prepared more than 9,700 federal income tax returns since 2010, with audited returns being off by an average of more than $3,800.

The complaint also says Haynes does not properly report some employees’ wages to the IRS and says Haynes fails to withhold and pay federal employment taxes for those same employees.