New Ordinance to Protect Taxpayers

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - BusinessMayor Rahm Emanuel announced a new ordinance to protect Chicago taxpayers from bad business practices by unscrupulous tax preparers. The ordinance focuses on businesses that take advantage of taxpayers unfamiliar with the filing process and saddles them with hidden charges, unfair repayment rules and misleading information that forces consumers to use alternative, more expensive products.

The businesses being targeted by the new ordinance primarily prey on taxpayers eligible for the Earned-Income Tax Credit (EITC), a critical economic support that allows hardworking low-income families to keep more of what they earn. Predatory commercial tax preparers use misleading practices and fine print to drive families into costly and unnecessary refund products like Refund Anticipation Loans and Refund Anticipation Checks (RALs/RACs) without full disclosure.

The ordinance will dramatically expand consumer awareness about commonly offered predatory tax products by forcing commercial tax preparers to disclose all fees and costs associated with their services before the return is performed.

  • Every tax preparer will be required to provide consumers with a bill of rights, so customers know exactly what to expect from high-quality tax preparation services and how to seek help if they believe they are victims of unscrupulous tax services.
  • The ordinance will ban tax preparers from steering customers towards high-cost refund products. Additionally, a tax preparer can no longer force customers to use a Refund Anticipation Loan or a Refund Anticipation Check if they seek general tax returns services.
  • Immigrant families who play by the rules and pay their taxes will be given the protection they deserve – tax preparers will be required to disclose all costs and fees in the native language of the customer.

The new ordinance will be introduced to City Council on Wednesday, February 15.

Comments are closed.