As of March 15, 2012 the City of Chicago will now be overseer of how tax preparers handle their customers because of a new ordinance passed by City Council named the Tax Preparer Ordinance. Every tax season Chicagoans fall victim to tax preparation firms and persons that use hidden charges and recommend unnecessary and expensive tax refund products. Chicago residents can now file complaints of deceptive tax preparers and they will be investigated by the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP), businesses found in violation of the ordinance can incur fines up to $750 per act. Residents can call 311 to file a complaint or write to the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection at 121 N. Lasalle St. Room #805 Chicago, IL 60602.
According to the new ordinance tax preparers or businesses providing tax preparation services must now:
- Offer a detailed explanation of available services.
- Provide the price of each offered service, any and all fees, and an estimate of the total charge based upon the services chosen for purchase, prior to rendering service.
- Inform customers of the reasonable period of time they can expect to wait for a refund.
- Tell customers they have the right NOT to utilize an alternative settlement product.
- Certify that they provided a clear explanation and the required disclosures.
- Inform customers of their right to file a complaint.
- Importantly, each customer is provided with the Consumer Bill of Rights Regarding Tax Preparation Services
To avoid any problems Chicago residents that earn as a family less than $50,000 and individuals earning less than $25,000 can find help at the free income tax preparation assistance sites throughout Chicago. For a full list of locations, and a check list for what you need to bring, please click here or visit the Chicago Tax Assistance website.