Former South County tax preparer arraigned for allegedly filing fake tax returns

A tax preparer who had been doing business at a Grover Beach address has been arrested and charged after a lengthy investigation into whether he had filed false claims for tax refunds without local residents’ knowledge or consent, Arroyo Grande police said Friday.

Neil A. Thomsen, who had been doing business as Exact Tax, was arraigned July 15 in the U.S. district court in San Diego on 34 counts of filing false claims for tax refunds with the Internal Revenue Service, Social Security fraud, passport card fraud and aggravated identify theft.

Exact Tax closed and left the county about three years ago.

According to a federal indictment, Thomsen could have received $375,000 in false tax refunds.

Arroyo Grande police issued a crime alert in February after an Arroyo Grande resident learned that fraudulent amended tax returns had been filed in his name in 2006 and 2007.

Arroyo Grande detectives found that amended tax returns, as well as a request for a refund and a change of address, had been filed without the resident’s knowledge.

The federal indictment states that Thomsen obtained names and social security numbers of several of his former clients and clients of his former employers to file false tax returns in 2009 to obtain tax refunds.

He used his IRS electronic filing number to set up accounts at two banks to receive the refunds, according to police, who cited the federal indictment.

Thomsen was arrested June 17 while trying to enter the United States from Mexico; he had in his possession several false identification documents in other people’s names, according to police. He was booked at a federal detention center in San Diego without bail.

Any resident believing he or she has been a victim of identity theft, especially clients of Exact Tax, can call police Detective Mike Zigelman at 473-5109.

-- Cynthia Lambert