Gypsum business owner sentenced for tax fraud


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Date: July 8, 2021


GRAND JUNCTION — The U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Colorado announces that Trenton Switzer, of Gypsum, CO was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Christine M. Arguello to serve 12 months and one day in prison and to pay restitution of $241,964.71 for submitting a false tax return to the IRS. Switzer previously pled guilty to an Information on April 26, 2021.

According to the filed information and the stipulated facts in the plea agreement, Switzer operated a sales training business that generated significant income. Switzer then attempted to avoid paying taxes on his income by falsely claiming that he had made a $250,000 charitable contribution to a fake church that he created for the purpose of evading taxes. As part of this scheme, Switzer incorporated the "Church of Divine Sovereignty" and opened a bank account in its name. Less than 24 hours after incorporating it, Switzer filed documents dissolving the fake church. Later, Switzer deposited $250,000 into the church bank account he created and then used that money to purchase Bitcoin.

When it came time to prepare his 2015 tax return, Switzer provided his tax preparer with a letter, signed by Switzer himself as the "pastor" of his fake church, purporting to memorialize the $250,000 as a charitable contribution. Switzer's tax preparer warned him that his fake church did not qualify as a charitable organization and that the purported payment could not be deducted. Nevertheless, despite these clear warnings, Switzer signed and personally filed his 2015 U.S. Federal Tax Return, falsely claiming a $250,000 charitable contribution deduction.

"Mr. Switzer's claim to be the pastor of a fake church he created to evade his taxes landed him in a real prison," said Acting U.S. Attorney Matt Kirsch. "My office will continue to aggressively pursue people who cheat on their taxes."

"Trenton Switzer's creation of a nonprofit church to generate false charitable deductions is not only a crime but an insult to all taxpaying citizens who pay their fair share of taxes," said IRS-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Andy Tsui. "IRS-CI Special Agents will always devote the necessary resources to bring to justice those who fail to uphold their civic obligation to file truthful and accurate income tax returns."

This matter was investigated by IRS-CI and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jeremy Chaffin.