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3 charged with tax fraud

Sun-Times file photo

Nearly two weeks after Tax Day, federal authorities have announced tax fraud charges against two Chicago-area tax preparers and an attorney.

Laurie Helfer, 55, was charged with filing false and fraudulent income tax returns, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office. She ran Northlake-based company “The Tax Lady Laurie” and, between 2008 and 2010, filed returns for her clients claiming false credits for earned income, education and child care expenses.

Another tax preparer, 63-year-old Lonnie Blakney, was also charged with knowingly filing individual income tax returns that contained false and fraudulent information, prosecutors said. Blakney, who lives in Normal, owned Chicago-based “Blakney Tax Associates” and in 2010 and 2011 filed tax returns containing invalid credits for real estate taxes; charitable donations; child and dependent care costs and education expenses.

Also charged was 50-year-old attorney Timothy K. Liou, who is accused of filing fraudulent income tax returns in 2010, 2011 and 2012, the U.S. attorney’s office said. In those three years, Liou, who lives in Wheaton, omitted $637,380 in gross income he got from his law firm.

“It is imperative to remind the public that criminal tax prosecutions occur throughout the year,” Joel R. Levin, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois said in the statement. “Tax preparers and individuals who willfully file false returns will be held accountable.”