Court documents revealed that for a 24-year span beginning in 1992, Terra Ferguson, of New London, North Carolina, served as an office manager at a Randolph County, North Carolina pediatric doctor’s office. In her role, she was responsible for, and had complete control over, the practice’s finances. Additionally, her role included being responsible for payroll taxes.
Prosecutors alleged that between 2011 and 2016, Ferguson caused nearly $80,000 to be withheld from employee paychecks but willfully failed to pay the withheld taxes over to the IRS.
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Under federal tax law, those who are responsible for the payroll tax function are required to withhold, account for, and timely pay over the withheld funds to the IRS. Additionally, Ferguson failed to pay the practice’s share of employment taxes. Investigators determined that Ferguson spent the money on her own personal expenses, including her own business ventures.
It is extremely common for those involved in payroll or employment tax crimes to also be non-compliant on their individual income tax returns. In the present story, Ferguson prepared false tax returns for her employer, which included an exaggerated mortgage interest deduction and the under reporting of gross receipts. Prosecutors asserted that the approximate tax loss of Ferguson’s criminal activity is nearly $375,000.
In addition to serving 14 months in federal prison, Ferguson will serve three years of supervised release. She was also ordered to pay restitution to the IRS in the amount of $374,101.
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