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LI tax preparation firms accused of falsifying returns

Federal officials have shut down a group of Long Island tax preparation businesses accused of falsifying returns to get greater refunds.

The Department of Justice announced Friday that a federal court in New York has permanently banned Taxes La Universal Corp., Universal Taxes & Staffing Corp. and Taxes La Universal II Corp. from preparing further tax returns.

Officials said all 51 federal returns reviewed during an investigation included fraudulent information, adding up to a tax deficiency of $479,000.

The owners of the businesses, Elias Linares and Margea Zaldivar, agreed to a civil injunction order that bars them from preparing returns and requires them to notify current and former clients, officials said.

Justice Department officials said Linares and Zaldivar prepared returns in Freeport and Roosevelt and claimed education, fuel and Earned Income Tax credits their clients did not qualify for by adding erroneous information to federal returns. False information included listing the Department of Education as a school to claim education credits.

When the Internal Revenue Service opened an investigation into the businesses, at least one of the IRS questionnaires sent to customers with suspicious returns was actually filled out by Linares and Zaldivar’s Taxes La Universal.

Officials said the customer dropped the paperwork off and picked up the completed questionnaire, in which the business claimed the customer had gone to a community college. The customer ultimately told IRS investigators in an interview that was false.

It was not immediately clear if Linares and Zaldivar had attorneys. Neither could not be reached for comment.

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