Rockland County Taxpayer Bill of Rights

November 2, 2022

Updated December 11, 2022

Commentary: Rockland County's Consumer Bill of Rights Regarding Tax Preparers is below for your convenience. The State of New York has a law that supersedes Rockland County's law. The state law requires "paid tax return preparers and facilitators" to follow the disclosures described below. Along with that, Publication 135.1 is required to be posted at their place of business. Publication 135 is required to be presented to a prospective client before any discussion about doing business begins. For those who are interested, New York City has a Consumer Bill of Rights. (All three of these documents are linked to their respective document names.)

These disclosure requirements do not apply to those who are not "tax preparers" and "volunteer tax preparers." The definition of a "tax preparer" in the State of New York excludes "licensed Certified Public Accountants" (CPA), licensed Public Accountants (PA), Enrolled Agents (EA), licensed Attorneys, and employees of these licensed individuals. The exception to this general exclusion rule is when the promotion of Refund Anticipation Loans (RAL), Refund Anticipation Checks (RAC), Refund Transfer (RT) or similar products are involved. When any of those taxpayer refund related products are involved, every person in the tax profession must comply with the disclosure rules.

Regarding Refund Anticipation Loans and Similar Products:

For the record, I have never promoted any of these taxpayer refund products as I do not believe that these are in the best interests of my clients.

Regarding Upfront Fee Disclosures:

I also believe in upfront disclosure, which is why my rates are openly posted on this website. Before any work begins, you will receive an estimate from me that requires approval by you first. If you approve my estimate, then an engagement letter is sent to you and must be signed before any work begins. Once the engagement letter is signed by both parties, then work can begin. (Invoicing also happens before any work begins.)

Regarding Year-Round Access:

My public accounting firm is available to and accessible by its clients all year long. Taxpayer representation is one of several services provided by my firm.

Regarding Explanations:

All clients are encouraged and expected to ask questions and seek explanations prior to signing any tax return related documents. I have never served clients any other way.

Andrew Griffith, DBA, EA, CPA (NY), CMA, CIA, CFE, CRMA

Rockland County, NY Article XV §355-92



Pursuant to the Tax Preparers Law of the Laws of Rockland County, all consumers shall be entitled to the following rights, which cannot be waived:

1. You are entitled to ask the individual tax preparer assisting or advising you on your tax returns or related matters what his or her qualifications are, and he or she is required, upon request, to produce documentation to verify such qualifications.

2. You are entitled to know how fees and charges are computed, including minimum charges and any additional charges. You must be given a receipt which states the charges for each tax return. The receipt must list the address and phone number at which the tax preparer may be contacted during a one-year period following April 15th of the year in which the prepared tax return is filed.

3. You are entitled to know whether the tax preparer will represent you at a government audit. Failure to make this disclosure means that the tax preparer agrees to represent the taxpayer to provide representation at a government audit. The tax preparer shall disclose the fee, if any, to be charged for such representation.

4. You are entitled to receive all personal papers you provide to the tax preparer upon request when the original tax return is given to you for filing, unless the tax preparer is specifically permitted to retain such papers under state or federal law.

5. You are entitled to know that any tax preparer who advertises the availability of a program by which a taxpayer may receive a loan against the taxpayer's anticipated refund may not directly or indirectly represent such loan as a refund. Any advertisement for tax preparation services which mentions such a loan program must state conspicuously that it is a loan for a fee or interest charges which will be charged by the lending institution for any such loan, and must disclose the name of the lending institution.

6. You are entitled to receive a copy of every tax return that the tax preparer prepares on your behalf at the time the original tax return is given to the taxpayer for filing or filed by the preparer. In the case of the tax returns that are filed electronically there will be no original tax return but the customer shall receive a printed copy of the return.

7. You are entitled to have the tax preparer sign every tax return that he/she prepares on your behalf. In the case of tax returns that are filed electronically the signature may be electronic.

8. You are entitled to know whether or not the tax preparer is a licensed accountant or attorney in New York State.

9. As the taxpayer you should:

a. Never sign an incomplete tax return or one that is filled out in pencil.

b. Never send cash to the government for payment of your taxes. Always use a check or money order to pay your taxes.

c. Never allow your refund to be mailed to the tax preparer.

d. Keep a record of your tax preparer's year-round address and phone number.

e. Review your complete tax return for accuracy before it is mailed or electronically filed and keep a copy in your files.

f. Check with the Rockland County Department of Consumer Affairs to determine if the individual or business preparing your taxes has ever been found to have violated the provisions of Tax Preparers Law of the Laws of Rockland County related to the control and regulation of tax preparers.

g. Retain copies of your income tax return and supporting documentation for a period of not less than three years.

h. Make a list of the documents you have given your tax preparer and have the tax preparer sign it.