Friday, July 3, 2009

Gomez v. Jackson Hewitt, Inc. (Cir. Ct. Mont. Cnty)

Filed June 18, 2009
Opinion by Judge Ronald B. Rubin

Held: The Maryland Credit Services Business Act (the "CSBA") does not apply to tax preparers who, ancillary to preparing tax returns, arrange for Refund Anticipation Loans ("RAL's") issued by other companies.

Facts: Judge Rubin dismissed a complaint demanding statutory damages and attorneys' fees for violation of the CSBA. The plaintiff alleged that Jackson Hewitt violated the act by failing to provide certain documents and disclosures, including the buyer's rights and detachable copies of a notice of cancellation. Jackson Hewitt maintained that it did not need to comply because it is not a "credit service business." It contended that it merely arranged the RAL, and the fee it received was for the preparation of the plaintiff's tax return.

The Court agreed. Looking to the legislative history, the Court concluded that the CSBA was intended to protect consumers from credit repair agencies who offer to "fix" credit ratings or obtain loans for a fee. It was significant to the Court that the only fee the plaintiff was obligated to pay Jackson Hewitt was for preparation of her return. The full opinion is available in PDF.

*The opinion is a great reference on statutory construction and the legislative history of the CSBA.

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