Field Hearing

Tax Related Financial Products Can Be Costly

Date: April 15, 2005
Time: 1:00pm
Location: Senate Dirksen Building, SD-342

Senator Norm Coleman, Chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, will conduct a field hearing regarding the Subcommittee’s investigation into tax-related financial products. These bank products include refund anticipation loans (RALs), refund anticipation checks (RACs) and refund transfers that are offered by tax preparers such as H&R Block and Jackson Hewitt. Also included are products offered solely by the tax preparation companies such as tax preparation guarantees. The Subcommittee will examine these products’ costs, the extent to which these products are fairly marketed, and whether the costs of these products are fully disclosed. We will also examine the refunds, incentives and rebates that are paid by banks to tax preparers for selling these products and the ethical implications that can be presented from a client service perspective.

The hearing will present testimony from former tax preparers and clients who will question the propriety of some of the marketing and disclosure tactics that are used to sell refund anticipation loans and tax preparation guarantees. Senator Coleman will also address consumer groups’ concerns about the products such as whether recipients of the Earned Income Tax Credit are targeted for these products. Further, Senator Coleman will examine the extent to which free tax preparation is available throughout Minnesota and the extent to which these services are being used. The hearing will also present two major professional tax preparation companies with the opportunity to explain their products, the products they market with banks, their marketing procedures, the costs of the products, and the incentives they receive.


Panel 1



H&R Block Client

Panel 1



Former H&R Block Tax Preparer

Panel 1



Panel 2



Research and Outreach Director

Children's Defense Fund

Panel 2



Excutive Director

AccountAbility Minnesota

Panel 3

Gary P.


Vice President, Legal

Jackson Hewitt Tax Service

Panel 3

Robert A.


Vice President, Government Relations

H&R Block