BAY RIDGE – A local tax preparer and his company the Five Pillars Financial Services, LTD, pleaded guilty to criminal tax fraud for allegedly stealing sales tax payments from his clients.
According to an investigation by the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance and the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, between March 2015 and August 2017, Yehad Abdelaziz and his corporation—located on 72nd Street near Fifth Avenue— received money from business owners and filed sales tax returns on their behalf. But, he also alledgly underreported sales or reported zero gross sales and instead pocketed the sales tax payments his clients had entrusted him to remit on their behalf.
“We will continue to aggressively pursue unscrupulous tax preparers who betray the trust of clients and deprive communities and the state of revenue needed for vital services,” New York State Commissioner of Taxation and Finance Michael Schmidt said in a statement.
Abdelaziz and The Five Pillars Financial Services, LTD, fas ordered to pay more than $191,000 in return. The payment includes the forfeiture of more than $6,700 that was seized as part of a search warrant executed by the Tax Department. Both Abdelaziz and his corporation are barred from providing tax services of any kind for one year.
“Tax preparers who cheat don’t only shortchange their clients, but effectively steal from all of us. They must be held accountable and pay restitution to victims,” Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez said. “My Office will continue to work with our partners to prosecute tax fraud and other forms of larceny schemes.”