The plaintiffs in Gomez v
- Thomas v. Jackson Hewitt, Inc., 950 N.E.2d 578 (Ohio Ct. App. 2011) (affirming dismissal based on failure to sufficiently allege damages from Hewitt’s violation of state credit services organization act).
- Fugate v. Jackson Hewitt, Inc., 347 S.W.3d 81 (Mo. Ct. App. 2011) (reversing dismissal, tax preparer could be credit services organization even though consumer did not make payment directly to preparer).
- Gomez v. Jackson Hewitt, Inc., 16 A.3d 261 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. 2011) (tax preparer that facilitated RALs was not a credit service organization because customer paid preparer for RAL facilitation only indirectly; court relied, ironically, in part on the fact that Maryland specifically passed a law governing RAL facilitators).
One of the primary allegations in these lawsuits is that the RACs offered by these companies are in fact disguised loans of the tax preparation fees
However, as a result of Jackson Hewitt’s bankruptcy filing, all of the RAL lawsuits against the company were apparently snuffed out.
A number of class action lawsuits in different states have been brought against H&R Block and Liberty Tax Service over their RAL and RAC programs. The lawsuits bring claims for violations of state RAL Act and/or consumer protection laws.
This class action was filed by Liberty Tax customers who alleged that Liberty preparers included false information in the customers’ returns without the customers’ knowledge. The lawsuit alleges violation of state consumer protection laws and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.
This year, we are pleased to report the end of RALs as big business. This is the last year in which tax preparers and their partner banks are able to offer high-cost, high-risk loans that skim hundreds of millions of dollars from tax refunds.
Unfortunately, the end of RALs does not mean the end of the exploitation of low-income taxpayers. Banks and tax preparers will continue to offer RACs, which can be subject to significant add-on fees and may represent a high-cost loan of the tax preparation fee. The tax preparation fee itself is also a source of potential consumer confusion, with high fees and the inability for consumers to obtain estimates to comparison shop. The use of prepaid debit cards to deliver RACs and collect payment for loans made by fringe providers adds to the importance of comprehensive federal protections for prepaid cards. There are many challenges remaining to protect low-income taxpayers from profiteering and abuse.
I’ve attached all the documentation I was able to get. I think it’s important to note that it’s my perception that this documentation is not always given to customers- for example, the first page is absolutely not given out. This is a screen print from their own internal e-tax screen that shows the fees [the https://www.signaturetitleloans.com/payday-loans-il/ tester] was charged. I actually came back to the store after our initial visit and asked for documentation of the fees charged, explaining that I thought it may be needed for doing taxes next year. The staff told me they don’t have anything for customers with this information (fees charged), but I was persistent (and nice) and one of the employees told the other “just print that out for him.”
I was able to get a copy the consent forms of what [the tester] signed by asking for one, although it was not offered. My perception is that the only paperwork one would get back without asking for it would be the IRS form 8879 (pages 2-3). I told the staff that I wanted to get a copy of the actual 1040 that was filed, and they told me they don’t have it. So, the AA staff just enter information into an e-file interface, and the e-file staff actually transmit the 1040, but this isn’t something that taxpayers have access to. I told the staff we wanted the 1040 for use with filling out [the tester]’s FAFSA, and they told me to just use the information on the front page of the 8879.