BOSTON — A veteran IRS employee is accused of filing more than 500 false tax returns for herself and others over a six-year span. If convicted, she faces more than 20 years in prison.

Jennifer Beth True, 44, of Lawrence, appeared in U.S. District Court on Tuesday to face charges of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. She was released pending her next court date.

A 22-year IRS employee, True worked as a lead contact representative at the agency’s regional service center in Andover, Massachusetts, helping with difficult questions from taxpayers.

True e-filed 591 returns for herself and others, breaking agency rules that prohibit employees from “engaging in the preparation of tax returns for compensation, gift, or favor,” according to U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling.

She received $40 to $100 per return, the majority of which she prepared using her personal computer and TaxAct software.

According to prosecutors, from February 2012 through April 15, 2018, True prepared 70 returns with false individual retirement account deductions and medical expenses, inflated unreimbursed business expenses and phony tax preparation fees. Some included false child and dependent care credits.

True is accused of amending one taxpayer’s returns for three prior years to claim false deductions, according to court documents.

Numerous taxpayers told investigators they did not give True the false information and did not know she was reporting it.

One taxpayer wrote to her, “Reviewing our IRS statement that you prepared I realized that 75% of what you documented is untrue/mistakes, etc. … So I’m meeting with the IRS about this issue so you will probably be contacted,” according to an affidavit filed in court.

Prosecutors say True filed her own return in February 2015 claiming seven dependents, including a taxpayer who was not her dependent but who paid her to prepare a tax return.

The effect was to reduce how much taxes True owed for 2014, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Wire fraud carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and fines as much as $250,000. Aggravated identity theft is punishable by a mandatory prison term of two years; up to a year of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000.

True may not travel outside New England, as a condition of her release.

Paul Tennant writes for The Eagle-Tribune of North Andover, Mass.

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