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Pop-Up Church Didn’t Have a Prayer

Trenton Switzer, the owner of a successful sales training business in Colorado, was found guilty of submitting a false tax return.

In 2015 Switzer attempted to avoid paying taxes by claiming that he had made a $250,000 charitable donation to a church he created for the purpose of evading taxes. As part of his scheme, Switzer incorporated the “Church of Divine Sovereignty” and opened a bank account in its name. Within 24 hours of incorporating the church he filed documents to dissolve it. But he did not close the church bank account and deposited $250,000 in the account, which he later used to buy Bitcoin.

When it came time to prepare his 2015 tax return, Switzer provided his tax preparer with a letter signed by himself, as the pastor of the church, documenting the $250,000 donation. Switzer’s tax preparer warned him that the fake church did not qualify as a charitable organization, and therefore the $250,000 could not be deducted, but Switzer still signed and personally filed his tax return.

Switzer was sentenced to 12 months and one day in prison and to pay restitution of $241,964.71.

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