‘Helping Hands’ business cost taxpayers $10.7 million

The owner of a North Carolina tax preparation business will be ordered to pay $10.7 million in restitution for filing false returns, prosecutors said Monday.

Herbert Lee Martin, 53, of Rockingham, pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of conspiracy to defraud the Internal Revenue Service and two counts of assisting in the preparation of false tax returns, the Justice Department said.

Martin owned a business known as “Herb’s Helping Hands” that filed the fraudulent refunds for clients from 2012 through last April, the government said. He also taught three nieces to do the same, prosecutors said.

The business reported fictitious or inflated income and dependency exemptions to claim earned-income tax credits, false business income and losses and false deductions, the Justice Department said. Martin and others at times bought or stole individuals’ personal information to list them as dependents. Some of the tax refunds went into Martin’s bank account, the government said.

Sentencing is set for next May. As part of his plea agreement, Martin will be sentenced to 11 years in prison and ordered to pay restitution to the IRS of at least $10.7 million.

Bruce Henderson: 704-358-5051, @bhender