Mystery with a great sleuth
When it comes to exposing tax fraud, Tara and her
partner Eddie are really cleaning up. From their brilliant
takedown of the disappearing "Tax Wizard" to their
perfectly planned downfall of the "Deduction Diva," they've
earned the respect of their peers at Criminal
Investigations. Now Tara's ready to celebrate with an
ice–cold pitcher of peach sangria—even if her
next case is totally the pits...
Tara's looking forward to a challenge but, back at the
office, everyone's looking for love. Her boss Lu "The Lobo"
Lobozinski and office virgin Josh Schmidt are signing up
for an online dating service, and—to Tara's
dismay—so is her crush, Special Agent Nick Pratt.
Tara's trying to act chill. But when she learns that her
next case involves cash–funneling to terrorists, it's
not just her love life that's on the rocks. It's her life,
On a Monday morning in late September, Eddie Bardin and
I donned our ballistic vests, slid our Glocks into our
ankle holsters, and headed out of downtown Dallas in a
plain white government–issue sedan that smelled
faintly of French fries.
Eddie leaned toward the door and checked himself in the
side mirror. "How do I look?""
What my response lacked in decorum it made up for in
sincerity. "Like an idiot."
Then it's the perfect disguise."
With the shiny gold chains, sagging jeans that exposed
polka–dot boxers, and untied hi–top basketball
shoes, he looked like a hip–hop singer or a wannabe
gangster. The disguise was a far cry from Eddie's usual
attire of classic business suits and silk ties. I, too,
wore a disguise, though mine was far more subtle. In blue
jeans, sneakers, and a Dallas Mavericks T–shirt, I
was undercover as a retail sales associate from a sporting
goods store at a nearby mall. As a final touch, I'd pulled
my chestnut brown hair into a pony tail and topped it with
a Texas Rangers baseball cap. Go team!
We were two IRS special agents on a mission. Today's
mission would be taking down a tax preparer who called
herself the "Deduction Diva." According to her glittery red
advertising flyer, she provided clients with massage chairs
and a complimentary glass of champagne while their returns
were prepared. Hoity toity, huh?
With tax law growing increasingly complex, more people
were turning to professional preparers. Entrepreneurs
looking for a niche figured they'd cash in on the trend.
Unfortunately, too many had jumped on the bandwagon. Tax
preparation services had become a crowded market and
preparers had resorted to gimmicks to grab the attention of
potential clients. But where these people came up with the
gimmicks God only knows.
After merging onto the freeway, I glanced over at my
partner. "Don't you dare touch that stereo."
I slapped his hand away as he attempted to eject my Tim
McGraw CD and slip in some soft jazz. Eddie might be
African–American, but he was much more Kenny G than
P. Diddy. I, on the other hand, was much more Lady
Antebellum than Lady Gaga.
Yep, in many ways Eddie and I were polar opposites. He
was tall and dark, a father of two who'd grown up and was
now raising his family in the affluent north Dallas
suburbs. I was a petite white woman, a recovering tomboy
who'd grown up climbing trees, shooting BB guns, and
swimming in the muddy creeks of the east Texas piney woods.
Dig a little deeper, though, and you'd find Eddie and I
shared quite a few similarities. We'd both kicked academic
ass in college, graduating at the top of our classes. We'd
both taken jobs as special agents in IRS Criminal
Investigations when we'd discovered that sitting at a desk
all day didn't suit us. And we both wanted to see tax
cheats get their due. Especially the Deduction Diva. She'd
been cheating the government for years. The Diva's due was
Twenty minutes later, I pulled the car into the lot of
the suburban office park where the Diva's business was
located and took a spot on the second row. Eddie opened the
door and climbed out, a phony W–2 clutched in his
hand. I sat in the car, snickering as he shuffled across
the parking lot in his saggy jeans and entered the
glass–front office space.
The audit department had referred the Diva's case to
Criminal Investigations after examinations of several of
her clients revealed a disturbing pattern. Each of their
returns showed a significant loss on a vague "consulting"
business. Suspiciously, the loss in each case was just
enough to offset the client's other income, resulting in a
refund of all taxes the client had paid in. When questioned
by auditors, the clients pointed fingers at their tax
preparer, claiming the Deduction Diva had devised the
Though the Diva's clients were hardly innocent, as long
as they made good on the taxes owed we'd let them slide
with a stern warning. Criminal Investigations was more
interested in nailing the preparer who'd perpetrated the
fraud on a wide–scale basis. Besides, we'd need the
clients to testify against the Diva should she plead not
guilty. But just in case our potential witnesses decided to
assert their Fifth Amendment right to remain silent, we
were here to collect direct evidence of the Diva's fraud.
Catching tax cheats red handed was always a hoot.
There's nothing quite as satisfying as seeing that
oh–shit–they–got–me look in their
Start Reading DEATH, TAXES, AND PEACH SANGRIA Now
Death and Taxes
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