Income Tax Preparer Jailed in State Tax Scheme

Date: 3/4/2004

RALEIGH – The former office manager of the H & R Block in Chadbourn pleaded guilty Wednesday in Wake County District Court to felony charges filed by the North Carolina Department of Revenue.

Timothy S. Rivenbark, 33, of 1820 Paulette Road, Morehead City, pleaded guilty to three counts of aiding or assisting in the preparation of false North Carolina individual income tax returns and three counts of attempting to obtain property by false pretenses.

The state’s evidence showed that Rivenbark prepared individual income tax returns for his clients while they waited. He then provided them with a copy of the completed return and told them how much their refund would be. Without their knowledge, Rivenbark added false business losses to the clients’ returns to increase the refund. The returns were filed electronically and refunds were mailed to a post office box controlled by Rivenbark. Each client was refunded the amount shown on their original return and Rivenbark kept the difference. In one case, Rivenbark asked a client to pay him the amount of tax he said she owed and then collected the refund in her name.

Wake County District Court Judge Paul Gesssner sentenced Rivenbark to three consecutive eight-month minimum, 10-month maximum prison terms. The sentences were suspended and he was placed on supervised probation for 36 months. He was ordered to serve a 20-day active sentence as a special condition of probation. He must also pay a $1,500 criminal fine and $9,577 in restitution to the North Carolina Department of Revenue. He was further ordered not to aid or assist in the preparation of tax returns for others and must testify in any matter relating to the preparation of tax returns at the H & R Block Office in Chadbourn.

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