Graham, Washington, man pleads guilty to tax fraud and aiding and assisting with false tax returns

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FILE PHOTO: The U.S. Department of Justice Building is pictured

Tacoma – A 53-year-old resident of Graham, Washington, pleaded guilty yesterday in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to tax fraud and aiding and assisting with false tax returns, announced U.S. Attorney Nick Brown.  Philippe Mbowamba faces up to three years in prison and a $250,000 fine when sentenced by U.S. District Judge Benjamin H. Settle on January 9, 2023.  Prosecutors have agreed to recommend no more than six months in prison with a restitution obligation for Mbowamba of $141,392.

According to the plea agreement, between 2012 and 2019, Mbowamba operated a tax preparation business.  An analysis of the returns Mbowamba filed revealed that he had falsely claimed deductions and tax credits on behalf of many of his clients.  Most of the clients were immigrants from Africa who were referred to Mbowamba by other members of the immigrant community. Mbowamba, a naturalized U.S. citizen, had originally immigrated from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  The immigrants trusted Mbowamba and were unaware of the false information on their tax returns. 

 In all, the Internal Revenue Service: Criminal Investigation analysis found 22 tax returns where Mbowamba had falsified the credits and deductions. 

In addition to false returns for other people, Mbowamba falsified his own return, failing to report more than $56,000 in income for tax year 2014.  The tax loss on that one return was $26,531.  In total from his own and others’ tax returns the tax loss was $141,392.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, the IRS may still level additional civil tax, penalties, and/or interest.  Mbowamba has agreed to accept a permanent injunction, barring him from preparing tax returns for anyone other than himself.

“’If you’re not cheating, you’re not trying,’ definitely does not apply when it comes to taxes,” said Special Agent in Charge Bret Kressin, IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Seattle Field Office. “Unfortunately, Mr. Mbowamba decided to learn this lesson the hard way by deliberately cheating on his own tax return as well as by falsifying the returns of his clients. While everyone enjoys the satisfaction of maximizing their tax refund, no one is entitled to cheat, lie, and defraud in order to get more than they are entitled to.” 

The case was investigated by Internal Revenue Service: Criminal Investigation (IRS:CI).

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Zachery Dillon.