St. Paul accountant barred from preparing tax returns

Nash Sonibare has prepared his last tax return. Or so the U.S. government hopes.

Yesterday U.S. District Court Judge Donovan Frank issued an order barring Sonibare from preparing any more federal tax returns. According to court documents, since 2002 Sonibare has done accounting work for some 3,373 clients. His St. Paul-based business, Liberty Financial Group, primarily targeted recent immigrants not versed in U.S. tax laws.

In October 2004, the Internal Revenue Service examined 88 returns prepared by Sonibare. It found that these returns shorted the government of $233,364 in tax revenue, or an average of $2,652 per return. Extrapolating from those figures, the IRS estimates that Sonibare's dubious accounting practices have resulted in a loss of more than $8 million in government revenue. According to the federal agency, Sonibare inflated deductions for mortgage interest, education credits, business losses, and charitable contributions in order to lower the tax burdens for his clients. (Sonibare's exploits were featured in this 2006 USA Today article.)

Sonibare was temporarily enjoined from preparing tax returns in March of last year. When IRS agents visited his University Avenue business a few days later, however, they discovered that he continued to operate the accounting practice. Sonibare was then found in contempt of court and federal marshals were ordered to change the locks at his place of business and post a notice stating that that the court had prohibited Sonibare from preparing tax returns.