(Boise) – Attorney General Lawrence Wasden has announced a Texas tax preparer has entered into a settlement to resolve an investigation into alleged violations of Idaho’s Consumer Protection Act. The subject of the investigation was unfair tax return preparation practices.
The attorney general’s Consumer Protection Division began its investigation into Bushambale Kashunga’s practices after the Idaho State Tax Commission audited the returns from 106 individuals who had relied on Kashunga, of Wichita Falls, as their tax preparer. The Tax Commission found grossly overstated deductions and expenses resulting in tax liabilities for Kashunga’s customers, all of whom were members of Idaho’s refugee community.
Wasden alleges that Kashunga made untrue statements on tax returns by overstating various deduction and expense amounts. Kashunga has denied the allegations.
Under Idaho’s consumer protection laws, it is unlawful for a tax preparer to make or authorize “any statement written or oral which is untrue or misleading” relating to their tax preparation services. It is also unlawful to make false promises that are likely to persuade or induce a consumer to authorize tax preparation services.
Under the settlement, Kashunga is barred from preparing Idaho tax returns. He has also paid $51,640 to reimburse Idaho customers who ended up with tax liabilities as a result of his preparations. The affected customers will be reimbursed a portion of their expenses and for penalties and interest they incurred. Kashunga also agreed to reimburse the Office of the Attorney General $5,000 for its investigative costs.
“I ask consumers to be cautious when someone claims they can produce a tax refund that seems too good to be true,” Wasden said. “When a tax return contains incorrect information, the taxpayer can quickly become the focus of an audit. If problems are identified, that individual could have to repay their refund as well as interest and penalties. It’s just not worth it.”
Under further terms of the agreement, if approached by an Idaho customer, Kashunga is allowed only to refer them to the International Rescue Committee (IRC) or the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program at Boise State University.
Wasden also acknowledged the work of the Idaho State Tax Commission.
“I want to thank the Tax Commission for identifying this situation and then taking a deeper look to determine the scope of the problem,” he said. “The commission’s diligence started a process that resulted in the recovery of a significant amount of money for those affected and the preparer can no longer do this type of work in Idaho. I’m grateful for this outcome.”