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Former H&R Block franchise owner in Hastings, Minn., sentenced for tax evasion

Tania Fay Pryor, 37, a former owner of Hastings-area H&R Block tax preparation franchises, will begin serving a 180-day jail sentence in the Dakota County Jail on Feb. 21 for tax evasion.

Pryor owned five H&R franchises and a daycare center in Hastings from 2004 to 2007.

Originally charged in 2009 with 18 felony counts for failure to file income tax, failure to pay income tax, and failure to file Minnesota withholding tax, Pryor pleaded guilty to 11 counts of failure to pay or collect taxes. As part of a plea agreement, the other counts were dismissed.

The investigation into Pryor's business began in June 2008. The Minnesota Department of Revenue Criminal Investigation unit received information that Pryor had not filed Minnesota state individual income tax returns for several years. According to department tax records, Pryor apparently had not filed tax returns or made estimated payments for the years 2005, 2006 and 2007.

Pryor began doing business as H&R Block in December 2001. Minnesota tax preparers that prepare more than 100 returns in a calendar year are required to e-file all Minnesota individual tax returns on behalf of their clients. Between 2004 and 2007 Pryor and her franchises prepared more than 13,700 Minnesota income tax returns.

No withholding tax returns were filed and no withholding tax deposits have been made for Pryor's business for all of 2007 and most of 2008.

Pryor was also the owner/officer of the Stepping Stone Child Development Center in Hastings and registered with the state in 2004. The business has since been sold. No withholding had been filed and no withholding tax deposits to the business were made, according to Minnesota Department of Revenue records. Approximately $35,000 was due for this business.

As part of Judge Robert King's sentencing order, Pryor must pay restitution as determined by the Minnesota Department of Revenue. A prison sentence of 10 years and 5 months was stayed, pending successful completion of probation.

Efforts to reach Pryor were unsuccessful.

The Hastings (Minn.) Star-Gazette is owned by Forum Communications Co.