FLORENCE, S.C. — Two Florence residents have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to aid in the preparation and filing of false federal income tax returns.
United States Attorney Sherri A. Lydon announced Tuesday that Donna Faye Shird, 41, and Felicia Renee Shird, 42, both of Florence, pleaded guilty in federal court before Chief United States District Judge R. Bryan Harwell.
Harwell accepted the pleas and will impose sentence after he has received and reviewed sentencing reports prepared by the United States Probation Office.
Donna and Felicia Shird are subject to a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.
The evidence presented at the guilty plea hearing established that Donna and Felicia Shird operated a business known as Donna’s Income Tax Service, which provided tax preparation and filing services for customers.
During the period from 2012 and 2017, both Donna and Felicia began routinely adding fictitious information to the personal tax returns of customers to artificially increase the amount of tax refund the customers would receive from the IRS.
Investigators discovered that customers of Donna’s Income Tax Service provided correct tax-related information to Donna or Felicia with the expectation that they would accurately prepare and file the returns for the customers. Instead, the Shirds would create returns which falsely claimed deductions, credits, exemptions, and other tax benefits to which the taxpayers were not entitled.
Falsely claimed items included child and dependent care credits, business profits and losses, education credits, residential energy credits, and earned income credits.
As a result, customers received fraudulently inflated tax refunds and Donna’s Income Tax Service attracted more customers based on its reputation for producing such large refunds.
The illegal operations of Donna’s Income Tax Service, and the fraudulent conduct by Donna and Felicia Shird, resulted in a significant loss of tax revenue for the government.
The case was investigated by agents of the Internal Revenue Service. Assistant United States Attorney A. Bradley Parham of the Florence office is prosecuting the case.