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Advertising Standards

In addition to the advertising standards in Publication 3112, IRS e-file Applications and Participation, there are additional responsibilities for Providers of individual income tax returns.

Providers must not use improper or misleading advertising in relation to IRS e‑file, including the periods for refunds and tax refund-related products including RALs. Any claims by Providers concerning faster refunds by virtue of electronic filing must be consistent with the language in official IRS publications. If Providers advertise the availability of a RAL or other tax refund-related product, the Provider and financial institution must clearly refer to or describe the funds as a loan or other financial product, not as a refund. The advertisement of a RAL or other tax refund-related product must be easy to identify and in readable print. That is, it must make clear in the advertising that the taxpayer is borrowing against the anticipated refund or receiving another tax refund-related product and is not obtaining the refund itself.

A Provider must not advertise that individual income tax returns may be electronically filed prior to the Provider’s receipt of Forms W-2, W-2G and 1099-R, as the Provider is generally prohibited from electronically filing returns prior to receipt of Forms W-2, W-2G, and 1099-R. Advertisements must not imply that the Provider does not need Forms W-2, W-2G and 1099-R, or that it can use pay stubs or other documentation of earnings to e-file individual income tax returns.

In using the Direct Deposit name and logo in advertisement, the Provider must use the name "Direct Deposit" with initial capital letters or all capital letters, use the logo/graphic for Direct Deposit whenever feasible and may change the color or size of the Direct Deposit logo/graphic when it uses it in advertising pieces.

Disclosure of Tax Return Information

Under Treas. Reg. §301.7216-2d(1), disclosure of tax return information among Providers for the purpose of preparing a tax return is permissible. For example an ERO may pass on tax return information to an Intermediate Service Provider and/or a Transmitter for the purpose of having an electronic return formatted and transmitted to the IRS. However, if the tax return information is disclosed or used in any other way without the consent of the taxpayer, an Intermediate Service Provider and/or a Transmitter may be subject to the penalties described in Treas. Reg. §301.7216-1(a) and/or the civil penalties in I.R.C. §6713 for unauthorized disclosure or use of tax return information.

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Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 31-Mar-2014