COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – Two local tax preparers have been sentenced to prison for filing false tax returns in an attempt to steal more than $200,000 in tax refunds.

Keven Walker, 33, and Tiffany Gist, 46, (aka Tiffany Walker) both pleaded guilty to charges of wire fraud and identity theft in August 2019.

Walker has been sentenced to 54 months in prison and three years of supervised release.

Gist has been sentenced to 45 months in prison and three years of supervised release.

Walker and Gist have been ordered to jointly repay $33,446 in restitution.

Walker was the owner of Walker Tax Financial Group, an income tax preparation business in Columbus. During the 2013 tax year, IRS agents discovered that the co-defendants filed 126 fraudulent returns, attempting to steal approximately $216,684 in refunds.

“Two dishonest tax return preparers will now spend significant time behind bars for choosing to cheat trusting clients and the United States,” said U.S. Attorney Charlie Peeler. “Our office is committed to protecting the integrity of the tax system and our citizens from fraud. We will continue to work alongside our IRS partners to root out and prosecute tax fraud.”

According to Mr. Walker’s signed plea agreement, the co-defendants used one victim’s correct social security number to file a phony tax return, but the address and W-2 form were false. Victims signed affidavits stating they never did business with the defendants and did not authorize them to file tax returns.