[HISTORY: Adopted by the Common Council of the City of Buffalo 1-20-2009, effective 2-2-2009. Amendments noted where applicable.]
For the purposes of this chapter the term "tax preparer" or "preparer" means a person, partnership, corporation or other business entity that, for valuable consideration, advises or assists or offers to advise or assist in the preparation of income tax returns for another.
For the purposes of this chapter, the term "refund anticipation loan" means any loan a taxpayer may receive against his or her anticipated income tax refund.
A tax preparer who is required, pursuant to federal, state or local law or regulation, to sign income tax returns as a preparer shall prominently and conspicuously post on the business premises an identification and qualification statement. The statement shall include, but is not limited to, the name of the tax preparer, an address and phone number at which the tax preparer can be contacted throughout the year, and a statement of any qualifications possessed by the tax preparer, which may include a statement of satisfactory completion of an educational or training program in income tax law, theory or practice by the preparer.
The tax preparer shall provide the customer with a receipt containing an address and phone number at which the preparer can be contacted throughout the year.
No tax preparer shall intentionally misstate or misrepresent any information relating to his or her education, training or experience on an identification and qualification statement. A tax preparer shall maintain records to substantiate all of the information contained on such a statement; provided, however, that an affidavit signed by the tax preparer indicating that the information contained on a statement is true shall be sufficient to substantiate any information if other records are not available. Such records and/or affidavit shall be kept on file on the business premises and shall be presented on demand for inspection by the Buffalo Police Department.
Any tax preparer who advertises the availability of a refund anticipation loan may not directly or indirectly represent such a loan as a refund. Any advertisement which mentions a refund anticipation loan must state conspicuously that it is a loan and that a fee or interest will be charged by the lending institution. The advertisement must also disclose the name of the lending institution.
Before any taxpayer enters into a refund anticipation loan, the tax preparer facilitating such loan shall provide the following disclosure to the taxpayer, in writing, in English and Spanish, in at least fourteen-point type. In the event that the taxpayer does not understand English or Spanish, the tax preparer shall also provide a point-by-point oral explanation of the following required disclosure in a language understood by the taxpayer:
It shall be the obligation of the tax preparer to complete the required disclosure accurately with all relevant information for each taxpayer, to provide the required point-by-point oral explanation when necessary, and to ensure that the completed disclosure form is signed by the taxpayer before he or she enters into a refund anticipation loan.
Apart from § 431-2 and the accompanying penalties as listed in § 431-6, the provisions of this chapter shall not apply to:
An officer or employee of a corporation or business enterprise who, in his or her capacity as such, advises or assists in the preparation of income tax returns relating to such corporation or business enterprise.
An attorney at law who advises or assists in the preparation of income tax returns in the practice of law and the employees thereof.
A fiduciary and the employees thereof who advise or assist in the preparation of income tax returns on behalf of the fiduciary estate, the testator, trustee, grantor or beneficiaries thereof.
A certified public accountant and the employees thereof.
A public accountant licensed pursuant to the education law and the employees thereof.
An employee of a governmental unit, agency or instrumentality who advises or assists in the preparation of income tax returns in the performance of his or her official duties.
Any person, partnership, corporation or other business entity who violates any provision of this chapter or any of the regulations promulgated hereunder shall be liable for a civil penalty of $250 for the first violation and for each succeeding violation a civil penalty of $500.