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Crime & Courts

Anchorage man filed over $400,000 of false tax returns on behalf of clients

Jose Luis Arenas pleaded guilty to filing inflated tax returns on behalf of his mainly Spanish-speaking clientele in Anchorage.

A 65-year-old man pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court to filing false income tax returns on behalf of his mainly Spanish-speaking clientele in Anchorage.

Jose Luis Arenas was not a registered tax preparer when he filed tax returns on behalf of his clients from 2013 to 2016 that included inflated deductions, like medical expenses and charitable giving, according to a grand jury indictment. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Alaska said in a statement that Arenas’ false filings totaled $443,465.

He charged his clients $100 to $600 per return but did not indicate on the forms that he was filing them as a paid tax professional — instead giving the impression that the taxpayers themselves were filing the returns, the indictment said.

“Shady tax return preparers like this defendant not only steal tax money out of the pockets of all honest citizens, he uses his clients to file false returns, putting them at risk as well,” U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder said in the statement.

Arenas pleaded guilty Tuesday to five federal charges of aiding and assisting in the preparation of false federal individual income tax returns. He faces up to three years in prison, a $250,000 fine and restitution. He is scheduled for sentencing on Jan. 16.