N.Y. AG goes after Syracuse tax preparer

By Bryan Cohen | Mar 20, 2013

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (Legal Newsline) - New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced Tuesday he has issued a cease and desist letter against a Syracuse-based tax preparer who allegedly overcharged consumers.

Schneiderman's office received customer complaints about Danny Tran, doing business as Tax Affairs, after he allegedly verbally quoted tax preparation fees that were hundreds of dollars less than what he actually charged.

In one instance, Tran allegedly quoted a consumer $125 for tax preparation services and later electronically deducted $974 from the refund. Tran also allegedly charged all consumers $35 for a refund transfer fee for the IRS to deposit their refund into a temporary bank account.

"Taking advantage of innocent people in this tough economy is shameful, and will not be tolerated by my office," Schneiderman said. "New Yorkers who are trying to obey the law by filing their taxes on time should not have to worry about being ripped off by tax preparation scammers covertly charging them excessive fees, or peddling other cons. Tax season is stressful enough. That's why my office is helping provide New Yorkers the information they need to make sure they don't get ripped off by scam artists."

Some tax preparation businesses advertise low fees to attract customers and increase the final fee by hundreds of dollars after claiming the tax return was more complicated than anticipated. Such tax preparers may electronically withdraw more than the agreed upon fee without providing the consumer with notice. Other tax preparers draw in customers with instant or 24-hour refund anticipation loans and refund anticipation checks. The high-interest loans are marketed and disguised as refunds, which violates New York State's General Business Law.

Another tax scam occurs when scammers impersonating tax authorities collect personal information from unsuspecting seniors or college students to use for identity theft.

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