Former Worth County tax commissioner pleads guilty to filing false tax return

Mar. 14—ALBANY, Ga. — The former long-time Worth County, Georgia, tax commissioner has admitted to not reporting earnings from work she did for four cities on her tax return.

Tabetha DuPriest, 57, of Poulan, Georgia, pleaded guilty to one count of making and subscribing a false tax return before U.S. District Judge Leslie Gardner Wednesday. The maximum sentence is three years in prison to be followed by one year of supervised release, a $100,000 fine and restitution. A sentencing date will be determined by the Court. The defendant is not eligible for parole.

"There is no excuse for a long-time tax commissioner to fail to report earnings on personal income taxes, just like other citizens must do," said U.S. Attorney Peter D. Leary. "These kinds of schemes undermine the public's trust and simply won't be tolerated by our office or our law enforcement partners."

According to court documents, DuPriest was the Worth County tax commissioner since 2001; she also served as the president of the Georgia Association of Tax Officials from 2019-2021. In her role as tax commissioner, DuPriest oversaw the collection of motor vehicle taxes and property taxes for the Worth County cities of Sylvester, Poulan, Warwick and Sumner. For that work, she earned approximately $80,000 in wages a year and received a Form W-2 from the Worth County Board of Commissioners.

In addition to her salary, each of these municipalities separately contracted with DuPriest to collect city taxes, court documents said, and she was paid separately by each city for that work. An FBI and IRS investigation revealed that DuPriest failed to declare any of the additional income she had received from her independent contracts with the four municipalities in Worth County on her federal tax returns since she became tax commissioner. It was not until after she was interviewed by the FBI in 2022 that she began to declare the additional income.

During the first FBI interview, the court said, DuPriest initially claimed she reported the additional income on her tax returns, however, during a subsequent interview she admitted she did not. DuPriest knew she was required to report these fees as self-employment income on her yearly tax returns. DuPriest received $99,293.65 from the four cities between 2016 and 2021 and did not report it as income, as required, on her tax returns.

DuPriest is responsible for causing at least a $27,924.22 tax loss to the IRS and required to pay $22,482.22 in restitution, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.