• Tax service accused of fraud

    By: Greg Suskin

    Updated:

    CHERAW, S.C. - A tax preparer is under investigation, accused of fraud, after dozens of clients went to the police.

    Cheraw police told Channel 9 that there may be close to 100 complaints against Goodwin Tax Service on Market Street in downtown.

    More than a dozen police reports were filed in the last month, but police said the complaints go as far back as 2013.

    Goodwin Tax Service has been a family-owned business in for decades.

    Clients allege that the tax service includes deductions that they were not eligible for, then filed the taxes, but the customers’ copies would be missing those documents.

     Phillip Leviner had his taxes done with Goodwin because he knows the family well.

    "I trust him and, I just ya know, felt betrayed," he said.

    Leviner said the IRS told him he owes roughly $4,500 in back taxes from three years ago. He said Goodwin applied for several deductions he doesn't qualify for at all.

    "He had me owning my own businesses in 2013, and showing losses in my businesses and truck repairs, and things of that nature, and I don't own a business," he said.

    Leviner was also given a deduction for being a full-time student, which he wasn't.   

    Another man, who didn't want to be identified, owes $1,200 in taxes that he didn't know about until after he got his refund check.

    "It's terrible because $1,200 is tough on us. We're all scratching our heads, trying to figure out how he made money off this, and how long it's been going on," he said.  

    Cheraw Police Chief Keith Thomas said his officers started fielding complaints last fall, then the flood gates opened this year.

    "In January, we started receiving an influx of people calling and coming in," he said.

     Thomas has met with agents from the state Department of Revenue several times. His office has also forwarded all police reports to the state.

    Wednesday afternoon, a spokeswoman for SC-DOR did not confirm or deny that there is an investigation into Goodwin Tax Service.

    However, several clients who filed complaints told Channel 9 that they have spoken directly to SC-DOR agents.

    People close to the Goodwin family said John Goodwin III took over the business from his father several years ago.

    That's when the problems started.

    Goodwin, 42, is in jail, serving 30 days for check fraud.  

    Channel 9 went to the business Wednesday where Goodwin's father was running the office. He did not comment about the allegations against his son.

    John Goodwin III has not been charged in the ongoing investigation.

    Cheraw police are urging people to come forward and make a report if they believe the same thing happened to them.

    Some victims said they should not be responsible for owing any back taxes because they never had the proper forms to look at, and find any errors.  

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