FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 14, 2007
MAYOR BLOOMBERG SIGNS LEGISLATION STRENGTHENING CONSUMER PROTECTION IN TAX PREPARATION INDUSTRY
Remarks by Mayor Bloomberg at a Public Hearing on Local Law
“The final bill before me today is Introductory Number 81-A, sponsored by Speaker Quinn and Council Members Gioia, Comrie, Fidler, Foster, Gentile, Martinez, Nelson, Weprin, Liu, Recchia, Gonzalez, Koppell, Gennaro, White and the Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum. This bill enhances the Consumer Bill of Rights Regarding Tax Preparers to include more information to protect consumers.
“Following abuses related to refund anticipation loans, the City aggressively pursued these predatory practices through the Consumer Bill of Rights Regarding Tax Preparers, which requires the Department of Consumer Affairs to issue clear and concise language that informs consumers about what they can expect from the tax preparation process. Tax preparers are responsible for giving each consumer a free copy prior to any discussions. This law also requires tax preparers to more clearly define the term “refund anticipation loan” and explicitly identify these refunds as loans. However, despite these measures, many consumers continue to misunderstand the complicated nature of refund anticipation loans.
“Introductory Number 81-A further strengthens the Consumer Bill Of Rights Regarding Tax Preparers law, by adding the following additional requirements. Upon request, a consumer must receive a written list of the tax preparer’s offered refund and tax preparation services, a written estimate of the total cost of these services, an interest rate estimation for a refund application loan, and a written estimate of the period of time a consumer can reasonably expect to wait for his or her tax refund. Tax preparers will also be required to both verbally tell the consumer to review the Consumer Bill of Rights and to answer any questions they may have regarding the content.
“When fully implemented, Introductory 81-A will better inform tax payers of their rights and alternatives regarding tax preparation services, and will ensure that tax preparers are adequately representing consumer options.
“I would like to thank the Department of Consumer Affairs Commissioner Jonathan Mintz and his staff for their work on this legislation. I would also like to thank the Council for approving this legislation.”
Stu Loeser (212) 788-2958
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