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Jackson Hewitt Hit on Fraud Suits

Franchisees face Justice Department action.
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Jackson Hewitt


got hit late Tuesday on news of a government probe of some franchisees.

Shares in the Parsippany, N.J., tax-return preparer plunged 18% Tuesday after the Justice Department filed civil suits against some Jackson Hewitt franchisees. The government claims that fraudulent tax returns were prepared at 125 Jackson Hewitt stores in the Chicago, Atlanta, Detroit and Raleigh-Durham, N.C., areas. The suits seek to shut down the stores and force repayment of ill-gotten gains.

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The government alleges that the owners of the stores defrauded the U.S. Treasury of $70 million by creating a business environment "in which fraudulent tax return preparation is encouraged and flourishes."

Shares dropped $5.87 to $26.53.