‘Magician’ Bronx-based tax preparer facing prison time for fraud

ATAX mascots are seen at a Bronx Chamber ribbon cutting on Jan. 15, 2022.
Courtesy Bronx Chamber

They called this Bronx-based tax preparer “the Magician,” but the Department of Justice is now calling him a fraud. 

The U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of New York announced on April 15 that Rafael Alvarez — owner of ATAX New York, LLC and its location in Marble Hill — was arrested charged for allegedly swindling the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) out of more than $100 million in tax revenue by falsifying his clients’ tax returns from 2010-2020. 

Damian Williams, the attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in the announcement that the charges “should serve as an important reminder to tax professionals that when they try to cheat the public fisc they will face grave consequences.” 

According to the announcement, the feds concluded that Alvarez, 60, submitted approximately 90,000 “bogus” returns for his customers to reduce their tax liability and increase their federal returns. Falsified information allegedly included incorrect itemized tax deductions, capital losses, business expenses, and fraudulent tax credits. “The Magician” — who the DOJ said grossed more than $15 million in revenue from 2016-2019 — also apparently made false statements to an IRS agent, along with one of his employees. 

Alvarez had been at ATAX in Marble Hill for more than 35 years, according to the business website. His twin daughters also are listed as employees at the branch, located at 5536 Broadway — one of them the company’s tax pro and the other the manager of the human resources department. According to the website, Alvarez was in the process of “passing the baton” to his daughters in the family business. 

The Bronx Times called ATAX-Marble Hill on Tuesday seeking comment and reached a receptionist, however the employee said they couldn’t answer questions. The receptionist did say, however, that they would have an employee call back. The Bronx Times is awaiting response. 

Alvarez’s Tax Day arrest comes almost three years after he was barred from preparing federal tax returns and ordered to pay $159,600 to the United States in disgorgement — which refers to the mandated repayment of ill-gotten money. DOJ spokespeople did not respond to Bronx Times questions about the timeline of his 2021 and 2024 bust, or about if he had been still preparing tax returns after 2021.   

Alvarez was charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, four counts of aiding and assisting preparation of false income tax returns and attempting to interfere with the administration of the internal revenue laws, as well as aggravated identity theft. Those charges carry maximum prison sentences of five years, three years each, and two years, respectively. 

“Alvarez’s alleged 10-year fraudulent operation is not a magic act, but rather a deliberate slight against the integrity of our country’s tax system,” said FBI Assistant Director James Smith. “Today, Alvarez must pay the price for his actions – the FBI does not tolerate those who steal from the government for personal economic fortune.”

Reach Camille Botello at cbotello@schnepsmedia.com. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes