New York City’s Department of Consumer Affairs found Thursday that one in four tax preparers do not comply with the city’s Consumer Protection Law.
On the heels of a three-week enforcement sweep of income tax preparers throughout New York, DCA Commissioner Julie Menin said that of the nearly 600 tax preparers inspected, one out of four were in violation of the New York City Consumer Protection Law for failing to post qualifications, fees and disclosures in all the languages in which the preparer advertises, for failing to inform consumers that every return filed must be signed, and for not providing consumers with a copy of New York City’s Bill of Rights Regarding Tax Preparers.
DCA issued more than 450 violations to tax preparers in all five boroughs during the sweep. In New York City, according to the Consumer Protection Law, tax preparers must post their qualifications, fees and charges, and whether or not they will represent consumers at a government audit. These signs must be posted in English and any language in which the preparer advertises. Preparers must sign every tax return, and provide their customers with a copy of their tax return and an itemized receipt for their services.
In light of these findings, Menin is encouraging New Yorkers who made $60,000 or less last year to file for free with the city’s tax preparation services, which include nearly 200 in-person sites, drop-off sites and online preparation at nyc.gov/taxprep.
“This year, the Department has gone above and beyond previous years to ensure that every eligible New Yorker takes advantage of the city’s free tax preparation services,” Menin said in a statement. “Not only did we invest more in our outreach campaign and in our partners to expand the number of sites available, but our inspectors are also out there ensuring that New Yorkers are not taken advantage of by unscrupulous tax preparers. We encourage New Yorkers who choose the paid preparer route to take a look at our tips and file a complaint with us if they feel their tax preparer is not following the law.”
Earlier this year, DCA conducted two industry training sessions to educate preparers about their responsibilities and also made available an inspection checklist of what inspectors look for during an inspection and templates for signage at nyc.gov/BusinessToolbox.
New York City residents pay an average of $250 to have a preparer complete their tax forms, according to DCA.
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