AJC Watchdog: First Alert

Keeping watch on those who hold the public trust and money

AJC/WSB fraud investigation gets results in case of Hapeville tax preparer

An Atlanta Journal-Constitution/Channel 2 Action News investigation is delivering results for Georgia taxpayers.

In a news story Tuesday, the two news organizations reported that the Department of Revenue has identified $6.4 million that could be recovered from unwitting taxpayers whose refunds were improperly inflated  by Hapeville City Councilwoman Ruth Barr.

Earlier this year, the AJC and Channel 2 reported that Barr, who ran a tax preparers business, had a history of preying on her tax clients, some of whom claimed she involved them in fraudulent investment proposals or other schemes.

Revenue officials told the AJC and Channel 2 this week that they have identified 8,000 suspicious returns prepared by Barr over a three-year period. The revenue department has begun sending letters to those taxpayers who appear to owe the most money, asking them to justify the amounts.

Thousands of Barr's clients could be faced with repaying the state money for returns that don't add up, officials said.

“Those taxes are rightfully owed to the state,” said Georgia Department of Revenue Commissioner Lynne Riley, “So anyone who isn’t paying their fair share is compromising everybody else.”

Read more about the case and Barr's response on myAJC.com.

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