In the wake of a recent crackdown that revealed widespread fraud, the city is urging New Yorkers to invest wisely in a credible tax preparer.
A probe by the Department of Consumer Affairs uncovered 1,600 violations among 435 tax preparers — mostly for infractions that include misrepresentation of qualifications, violation consumer rights and illegally advertising "instant" or "rapid" Refund Anticipation Loans.
"Stay away from tax preparers who don't play by the rules," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said during a press conference in the Bronx on Wednesday. "Your own vigilance is the best way to protect your rights and your wallet."
The mayor and consumer affairs commissioner Jonathan Mintz urged New Yorkers to take advantage of the options available for filing their taxes and claiming refunds at a low cost.
"Deception is a lousy way to do business, but particularly when it is siphoning off the important tax credit dollars from people who need it," Mintz said.
Qualifying New Yorkers can file their taxes online for free, visit a free tax assistance site or get their taxes done at a participating H&R Block location for just $29 dollars using a new city-sponsored coupon.
All New Yorkers making $57,000 or less have access to free or low cost tax preparation, the mayor said in a statement.
The deadline for filing city, state and federal income tax returns is April 18.