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Santa Barbara Woman Pleads No Contest to State Income Tax Evasion, Grand Theft

Released: November 10, 2009

Sacramento — A Santa Barbara woman pleaded no contest today to one felony count of grand theft with an enhancement for taking over $250,000 and one count of state income tax evasion, the Franchise Tax Board (FTB) announced.

Laura Rose Tibbin, 47, was employed as the office manager for a Santa Barbara law firm. According to court records, Tibbin was responsible for preparing accounting books and records including payroll records and employees’ W2s. Tibbin abused her position of trust as a 13-year employee by failing to report the full amount employee payroll withholding taxes to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and instead deposited these funds into her own account. From 2000 - 2006, Tibbin embezzled more than $339,000 from her former employer. She used the illegal income to pay her personal expenses, personal credit card charges and taxes owed to both the IRS and FTB. In addition, Tibbin failed to claim the illegal income on her state income tax returns. All income is taxable including income from illegal sources. Tibbin owes FTB more than $78,000 in unpaid tax, penalties, interest, and the cost of the investigation.

Tibbin’s sentencing is scheduled for May 11, 2010. She faces up to 56 months in state prison and the total amount of restitution to be ordered to her former employer and FTB will be determined at her sentencing.

The underreporting of income and failure to file tax returns are part of the $6.5 billion tax gap California faces each year. The tax gap is defined as the difference between the tax that is due and the tax that is paid.

Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge Michael Hill accepted the plea in Department 2 of the Santa Barbara Superior Court. Santa Barbara County Deputy District Attorney Paula Wildman prosecuted the case.

For more information on other taxes and fees in California, visit www.taxes.ca.gov.