Rangely woman subject of IRS criminal inquiry

Criminal investigation agents with the Internal Revenue Service were seen going in and out of a house on Main Street last week in Rangely. A spokesman said he couldn’t comment on the investigation, other than to say the agents were “there on official business.”

Criminal investigation agents with the Internal Revenue Service were seen going in and out of a house on Main Street last week in Rangely. A spokesman said he couldn’t comment on the investigation, other than to say the agents were “there on official business.”
Criminal investigation agents with the Internal Revenue Service were seen going in and out of a house on Main Street last week in Rangely. A spokesman said he couldn’t comment on the investigation, other than to say the agents were “there on official business.”
RANGELY I Sharon Briggs didn’t know who was pounding on her door the morning of Jan. 14.
“I had no idea whatsoever,” said Briggs, whose house at 832 E. Main St. was searched by agents of the criminal investigation unit of the Internal Revenue Service. “I saw the lineup of cars (parked in front of her house) … I just said, ‘What in the Sam hell is going on here?’ They were ready to break the door down. I said this isn’t legal.”
According to the application for a search warrant, the lead investigator, Special Agent Matthew Garth, wrote, “… there is probable cause to believe that the residence of Sharon Briggs … contains evidence of false claims of withholding of taxes … and violations of aiding or assisting in the preparation of false or fraudulent income tax returns …”
In response to the search and the IRS’ claims, Briggs said, “I have nothing to hide.”
Special Agent Bryan Thiel, a spokesman for the IRS-Criminal Investigation in Denver, said, “Basically, we were out there executing a search warrant. When we have an investigation … paper trail-type cases … we try to obtain records. And, depending on the case, a search warrant is one of the more intrusive means. So we try to use that as a last option.”
Briggs said agents spent four to four and a half hours at her home.
“They had two agents who sat there and watched me,” said Briggs, who lives in the house with her grown daughter. “They never took their eyes off of me. Intimidation and harassment are what it’s all about. I felt angry and very violated.”
According to the search warrant, “Through the FIRE (Filing Information Returns Electronically), Sharon Briggs filed approximately 670 Forms 1099-OID for 248 individuals. Of the 248 individuals … 36 tax returns were filed for the 2008 tax year requesting fraudulent refunds based on false 1099-OID information …”
OID is Original Issue Discount and, according to the IRS, “a form of interest and occurs when a debt instrument is issued at a discount, or is purchased for less than its ultimate redemption.”
The application for a search warrant, filed in U.S. District Court on Jan. 13 in Grand Junction, said, “The United States government has suffered significant losses as a result of 1099-OID schemes … the individuals who are perpetrating these schemes are preparing IRS Forms 1099-OID and submitting them to the IRS attached to fraudulent tax returns or amended tax returns.”
Briggs, responding to the allegations, said, “They don’t like me filing 1099-OIDs. They don’t like people using them, because it creates a refund on your return. But it’s their form you’re using. I have done nothing outside the realm of what hundreds of thousands of others are doing.”
The lead investigator said in the search warrant application, “The 36 suspect tax returns … that Sharon Briggs filed … claim refunds in the aggregate amount of $7,981,883. Of this total, $563,024 was actually paid by the U.S. Treasury before payments were stopped by the IRS.”
Matt Scoggins, owner of Colorado CPA in Rangely, Meeker and Craig, owns the house where Briggs lives. He said he was not contacted by the IRS’ criminal investigation unit.
“Yes, I own the property where the IRS agents were last week,” Scoggins said. “It is currently under a lease/purchase agreement with the current occupants. I do not know the details of what they are investigating, but Sharon Briggs indicated to me that it has something to do with OID she claimed for taxes, which she said was perfectly legal. That is the factual information I have.”
Special Agent Thiel said he didn’t know how the case will proceed.
“It’s hard to say,” Thiel said. “Basically, when we do a search warrant, we’ll go through those records to see if there’s further evidence to continue the investigation. If we find evidence does support it, we may use additional investigative techniques. At some point, if we decide there’s enough evidence, we’ll recommend prosecution to the U.S. Attorney’s office. We’re not at that stage yet. Or, we may decide there’s not enough evidence to prosecute. Then we’ll shut down the case.”
According to the search warrant application, “A drive-by was conducted on Aug. 13, 2009” at Briggs’ Rangely residence and “revealed an older lady matching the general description of Sharon Briggs …”
Following the search of her house Jan. 14, which included the removal of her computer and paper files, Briggs said she has filed Freedom of Information Act requests with 12 federal agencies.
“I have every right to file a criminal complaint against them,” she said. “I’m not willing to roll over.”