CONCORD - A Claremont couple has pleaded guilty to filing false tax returns using the names of two sons that were serving overseas to avoid paying their rightful tax assessment, the U.S. Attorneys Office announced on Monday.
According to the information and plea agreements, from 2011 through 2016, William Cote, 49, and Kelly Cote, 52, filed false tax returns using the identities of Kelly's sons and William's stepsons. While one was deployed overseas for the United States military, the Cotes prepared a false tax return for tax year 2011 using his identity. While another was stationed overseas for the United States military, the Cotes prepared and filed false tax returns for tax years 2012 through 2015 using his identity. To obtain larger refunds, the Cotes falsely listed both as head of household on the false tax refunds for these returns and deposited the money into their own joint bank account.
In February 2013, while one was stationed overseas, the IRS audited the false 2012 tax return the Cotes filed using his identity. On May 6, 2013, in a phone call with the auditor, William Cote impersonated the son and "confirmed" the details in the false 2012 tax return.
That same day, to support the false tax return, the Cotes prepared and faxed the auditor lease agreement that falsely stated that the son rented William and Kelly's home. Kelly Cote forged the son's signature on the lease agreement.
All told, the Cotes received more than $36,700 in fraudulent tax refunds.
Kelly Cote pleaded guilty on March 24 and is scheduled to be sentenced on June 30. William Cote pleaded guilty on Monday and is scheduled to be sentenced on July 15.
"Knowingly submitting a fraudulent tax return is a serious federal felony offense," said Acting U.S. Attorney John J. Farley. "These defendants not only submitted false claims for tax refunds, but supplemented their efforts using lies and a forged document to further their scheme. Those who might be tempted to file fraudulent claims for tax refunds should understand that this illegal conduct can have significant legal consequences."
"Filing false tax returns is not a victimless crime," stated Ramsey E. Covington, Special Agent in Charge of Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation. "When the Cotes intentionally filed fraudulent tax returns claiming refunds they were not entitled to, they showed a blatant disregard for the American tax system and left the burden of paying for these fraudulent refunds on the shoulders of the American taxpayers. Hopefully the guilty pleas of William and Kelly Cote demonstrate to the public that protecting taxpayer money is a matter we take very seriously at the IRS."