IRS says return system back up & running

The latest update from the Internal Revenue Service should calm concerns from buy-here, pay-here dealers looking for potential buyers to have income tax refund monies available for possible down payments or for current customers to get their contract out of the delinquency bin.

The IRS said late on Thursday that it resumed processing individual and business tax returns following a system problem.

The IRS emphasized that taxpayers do not need to take any additional steps or action due to the outage, including people who filed just before or during the outage. Throughout this period, officials indicated taxpayers were able to continue to send their tax returns to their e-file provider. These companies have already started sending these tax returns into the IRS.

The agency indicated it is continuing to examine the underlying cause of this week’s outage as well as monitoring any follow-up issues.  Officials emphasized that it's important to note that at this time this situation appears to be a hardware failure.

“IRS teams worked throughout the night and around the clock on this system outage,” IRS commissioner John Koskinen said. “Our processing systems are back in business.

“Taxpayers should see little, if any, impact on their tax returns or refunds,” Koskinen continued. “We apologize for the inconvenience this caused, and we appreciate the support and patience from taxpayers as well as our partners in the tax community and state revenue departments.”

The agency added that it anticipates that nine out of 10 taxpayers will receive their refunds within 21 days after being accepted by the IRS.

5 improvements to NIADA member services website

The National Independent Automobile Dealers Association made a major enhancement to the NIADA member services Web-based promotional platform.

According to what NIADA officials indicated on Thursday, the enhancement not only can make it easier for the association's 15,000-plus members to access benefit programs, but also is designed to add extensive new offerings.

The association explained the portal, developed in conjunction with BenefitHub, significantly expands the number of member benefit offerings, enhances navigation and ease of use, and makes it much easier to sign up for member benefit programs.

The new member services gateway offers:

— Expanded consumer-oriented member benefit offerings for personal use, including travel, electronics, dining, health/beauty, tickets, sports/outdoors, apparel and more

— Enhanced transparency of NIADA’s many member benefit programs

—  Improved user navigation

— A consolidated Member Services hub to eliminate user confusion while enhancing ease of use, understanding of special offers and the signup process

— Enriched capability for member benefit partners to develop new, innovative and compelling NIADA member benefit offerings

“Our valued member dealers will find this new member benefit program portal to be extremely user-friendly, making it easy to navigate and take advantage of the hundreds of exciting, leading-edge member benefit programs that allow them to save hundreds of dollars on both business and personal services and products,” NIADA senior vice president of member services Scott Lilja said.

“This innovative enhancement and resources allocation by NIADA clearly highlights our long-term commitment to ensuring members receive a robust return on their membership investment,” Lilja continued about the site that’s available at

This enhancement announcement comes on the heels of NIADA acquiring the assets Leedom & Associates.

J.D. Byrider honors 17 operators during annual awards program

J.D. Byrider recognized a total of 17 dealerships from 12 states as winners of the buy-here, pay-here store chain’s annual awards during its November convention in Orlando, Fla.

The company highlighted that its Franchise of the Year winners were chosen in three categories — Single (one location), Mid (two to three locations) and Multiple (more than three locations). The winners included:

• Single: Mike Marsh for his location in Traverse City, Mich.

• Mid: Mike Burgstone and team for their locations in Joliet, Glendale Heights, and East Dundee, Illinois. This is their second-consecutive Franchise of the Year award.

• Multiple: Russ Larson and team for his eight locations in Huntsville, Ala., Burlington, Cedar Rapids, Davenport and Des Moines, Iowa, Columbia and Springfield, Mo., and Omaha, Neb. This is their 10th-consecutive Franchise of the Year award.

J.D. Byrider also distributed 17 President’s Awards, which are given to individual locations based on store earnings, portfolio quality and customer service ratings. This year’s President’s Award winners are located in:


— Tuscaloosa (2700 Skyland Blvd. E) – Steve and Jeanne Locklear, owners


— Sherwood (6055 Landers Rd.) – Mark Bedgood, Bill Evans, Matt Enderlin, Jeffrey Boone and Fred Nichols, owners


— Joliet (2323 W. Jefferson St.) – Mike Burgstone, owner


— Bloomington (2425 W. 3rd St.) – Terry Gerhart, Mike Bolin, Ben Becht, owners


— Burlington (125 S. Roosevelt Road) – Russ Larson, Doug Stewart, Jeff Lee, Daryl Nelson and Gerod Meier, owners

— Davenport (925 W. Kimberly Road) – Sheila Schaub, Jeff Nickerson and Tedd Pless, owners

— Des Moines (2426 SE 14th St.) – Russ Larson, Jeff Lee, Doug Stewart, Daryl Nelson and Paul Newman, owners


— Owensboro (250 E 18th St.) – Jeff Anderson, owner


— Dorchester (710 Morrissey Blvd.) – Trevor Wiggins, Jack Correia, Kelly Wiggins, owner


— Traverse City (3536 North U.S. 31 South) – Mike Marsh, owner


— Euclid (20941 Euclid Ave.) – Dennis Ange, owner

— Akron (777 Canton Road) – Chris McPhie, owner

— Mansfield (1810 W. 4th St.) – Chris McPhie, owner

— Wooster (4536 Cleveland Road) – Chris McPhie, owner

South Carolina

— Columbia (3815 W. Beltline Blvd.) – J.T. and Jonathan Gandolfo, owners


— Roanoke (3141 Peters Creek Road) – Gary Duncan, owner


— Appleton (2301 W. College Ave.) – Russ Darrow, Jr., owner

“We are extremely proud of each of this year’s winners,” said Tom Welter, vice president of franchising for J.D. Byrider. “They have risen to the top of our dealer community with their quality service to customers.

“These awards are a great reminder of the strength within our franchise system and our drive for improvement year after year,” Welter went on to say.

4 questions about potential Tax Refund Advance impact

Just before Thanksgiving, Tax Max highlighted a development that could positively impact buy-here, pay-here operators. After four years on the shelf, the banking industry has revived the Tax Refund Advance for 2016.

To help BHPH dealers take advantage of this opportunity, Chip Wiley — who is the corporate trainer and marketing specialist for Tax Refund Services and Tax Max — answered four questions he has received most about how the Tax Refund Advance is designed to function.

Where can customers get these refund advances? 

Dealerships need to contact their tax refund season company partner to verify if they are a participant in this program. Not all tax preparers will be participating as not all tax refund associated banks are expected to offer the Tax Refund Advance product.  Ask around, contact your state association, or contact national associations like NIADA or NABD for recommendations.

How can I benefit from this?

The obvious answer will be from the early influx of tax refund dollars into the market.  In the past two years, tax refunds started paying out between Jan. 29 and through Feb. 5.  Tax Refund Advances are expected to begin in the Jan. 15 through Jan. 22 timeframe.  Dealers “in the know” will have the advantage with the timing of their marketing.

People want their refund money yesterday, so the allure of a 24-hour check is a major draw. Dealerships that work directly with a tax refund partner stand to profit the most. These companies thrive on the success of the sale of the vehicle and increased down payments, thus creating an essential partner in this critical time of year. Being able to offer your customers the ability to get their hands on early tax season money is key. 

How much will this cost the customer?  How much will this cost the dealership?

Ask your tax refund partner company for more details.  Some Tax Refund Advance products come at no additional cost to the customer, no additional cost to the dealership, and with no credit checks.

Can I expect increased traffic from this?

That is up to you, your sales staff, your marketing, your online presence, and your vigilance to capture the tax refund customer.

If you are content with the business you attracted last year, then no, you should not expect and increase. In fact, your business should drop again this year. The significant beneficiaries will be the business owners who go after the customers and bring them in the door. This can be used as an opportunity for sales, repairs, collections, special payments, irregular payments or back-end product upgrades.

Remember, $750 is a lot of money, but customers will spend it faster than it arrived. Be proactive with the intent on seizing opportunities such as this one while your competitors sit on the sidelines. Many will not know this money is coming. It is your chance to steal market share.

Tax Refund Advances are back in 2016

Here’s some good news for buy-here, pay-here dealers going into Thanksgiving celebrations.

After four years on the shelf, the banking industry has revived the Tax Refund Advance for 2016. This development means that much needed funds are expected to be in the hands of consumers in mid-January.  Many individuals can expect up to $750 in 24 hours or less.

Prior to 2012, customers became accustomed to 24 hour refund loans. The old RAL (Refund Anticipation Loan) was greatly frowned upon by the current administration in Washington. Consumer protection advocates argued that the fees were too high and the APR was unacceptable.  The latest reincarnation has put all of these concerns to rest. This is a win-win for both the dealership and the customer.

Come January, many of the new Tax Refund Advance products that are being proposed will come with zero APR and zero application fees.

Recent history has brought about the new normal of a 5- to 21-day tax refund cycle. This will still exist in 2016. The difference that is generating additional excitement is the opportunity to obtain up to $750 within 24 hours, without a credit check.

The demand for the return of the Tax Refund Advance comes largely in response to the decline in traffic seen by the professional tax preparer. Self-preparation software such as TurboTax and TaxAct seized control of the market after the RAL disappeared. 

Consumers seem to have become unconcerned with their own personal qualifications to file a tax return.  The market is hoping to capitalize on the primary, pre-2012 draw to the local tax preparer: the enticement of fast money.

Banking institutions within the tax refund industry market have seen dramatic declines in revenues since 2012. Self-prepared tax returns bypass these companies, resulting in reduced customer counts.  An old product in the form of a Tax Refund Advance is seen as the new hope to reverse these trends.

Such trends have been mirrored at car dealerships who have not focused on the tax refund customer.  Many lament that tax season is not what it once was.  This phenomenon is due to both the refund loan hiatus and more aggressive competition.

Dealerships on the sidelines have seen the competition on the field steal their market share while garnering higher down payments.  Those with tax refund strategies have seen a steady rise in business, leading to a decline for the rest.

Tax refund marketing has evolved over the past five years to counteract the absence of the refund loan.  Now that the Tax Refund Advance has re-emerged, customer traffic is expected to soon follow.

Chip Wiley is the corporate trainer and marketing specialist for Tax Refund Services and Tax Max. Wiley can be reached at (813) 987-2199 or

DriveTime hosting 48 races to raise funds for struggling families

On Sunday, DriveTime is hosting 48 running events across the country during its first DriveTime Kids in Need 5K Fun Run.

Officials shared recent estimates that indicate nearly 20 percent of Americans face the burden of unpaid medical bills.

Recognizing this need, especially among families with children, each DriveTime dealership and operations center will raise funds for a local customer family that has a child with a medical need.

With the addition of the Kids in Need 5K Fun Run, DriveTime said it is deepening its commitment to giving back to the communities in which the company’s employees live, work and run. The Kids in Need 5K Fun Run is designed to provide the unique opportunity to engage all DriveTime dealerships and their communities at once, showing the depth of the network of support created by DriveTime.

Community members are encouraged to join the nearly 4,000 DriveTime employees and run, walk, jog or cheer on their local run. The event is free for participants and spectators, and no tickets are required. Medals will be awarded for the top 3 finishers at each race, and water stations and snacks will be provided.

Through the Kids in Need 5K Fun Run, DriveTime is working hand in hand with local communities and eliminating the potential administrative and marketing costs associated with donating to charities. As a result, DriveTime will give 100 percent of proceeds directly back to the community.

DriveTime is committed to donating a minimum of $65,000 to participating families (up to $230,000), and has set a goal to raise an additional $35,000 from the public. Donations can be made at GoFundMe through the race date. 

DriveTime Kids in Need 5K Fun Runs will take place in the following cities:

Albuquerque, N.M
Austin, Texas
Baltimore, Md.
Birmingham, Ala.
Charleston, S.C.
Charlotte, N.C.
Chattanooga, Tenn.
Columbia, S.C.
Columbus, Ohio
Dayton, Ohio
Fort Myers, Fla.
Greensboro, N.C.
Greenville, S.C.
Huntsville, Ala.
Jackson, Miss.
Jacksonville, Fla.
Kansas City, Mo.
Knoxville, Tenn.
Las Vegas
Lexington, Ky.
Los Angeles
Louisville, Ky.
Memphis, Tenn.
Montgomery, Ala.
Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Nashville, Tenn.
Norfolk, Va.
Oklahoma City
Orlando, Fla.
Pensacola, Fla.
Raleigh, N.C.
Richmond, Va.
Roanoke, Va.
San Antonio
Savannah, Ga.
St. Louis
Tallahassee, Fla.
Tampa, Fla.
Tulsa, Okla.
Tyler, Texas
Washington, D.C.
Youngstown, Ohio

To learn more, visit DriveTime’s charities website or find the nearest 5K fun run near you on Facebook, along with time and location information.

FAIR & KISS highlight 8 parts of new asset protection program

Finance And Insurance Resources (FAIR) has partnered with KISS Concepts Group to release the Complete Asset Protection (CAP) program — what they believe is a first-of-its-kind, all-inclusive insurance program to protect the collateral of buy-here, pay-here dealers, lease-here, pay-here dealers, auto finance companies, banks, credit unions and related finance and lease companies. 

The CAP program is one of several unique insurance offerings to be released this year, resulting from a strategic master agent private label agreement between FAIR and KISS Concepts Group. The two companies are building a platform of insurance programs tailored specifically for auto-related audiences.

“One of the biggest challenges every auto finance company faces is finding affordable, easy-to-implement ways to minimize their normal everyday losses, catastrophic losses and other unique risk exposures that occur in protecting their collateral and profit. The CAP program offers exactly that,” FAIR chief executive officer Rick Mims said.

“For even more peace of mind, the entire policy is backed by Certain Underwriters at Lloyd’s of London, one of the largest specialty insurance providers in the world with underwriting capacity in excess of $31 billion,” Mims conintue.

CAP includes the following coverage for both loans and leases, combined into one policy:

— Guaranteed asset protection (GAP): This coverage can protect both lenders and borrowers, so it can be presented during the sales process as a value-add to the vehicle buyer.

 — Lender’s single interest: If the consumer stops making payments, the lender’s investment can be covered against many perils without the cost of having to track insurance.

 —Skip: If the lender cannot locate the borrower, co-borrower or the vehicle, the lender’s investment can be covered.

 —Physical damage and theft: If the vehicle is damaged or stolen before, during or after repossession (and the consumer’s insurance has lapsed), the lender’s investment can be covered.

 —Title errors and omissions: If the insured party or the state makes an error or omission in the processing of the loan or title work that causes a loss, the insured party can be covered. 

 —Confiscation and seizure: If the vehicle is impounded or seized by police or a public/government/federal office or officer, the lender’s investment can be covered.

 —Terrorism: If the vehicle is damaged during an act of terrorism, the lender’s investment can be covered.

 —24-hour roadside assistance: This coverage can benefit both the borrower and lender and includes sign-and-drive coverage for items such as towing assistance, flat tire assistance, emergency fluid delivery, lockout assistance, battery service, rental car discounts and more.

Rod Heasley, president and chief relationships officer of KISS (Keep It Simple Successfully) Concepts Group partnered with FAIR to develop the CAP program. Heasley explained the policy offers dealers and lenders a “one-stop shop” to insure their collateral investment.

“Clients now have the convenience of combining multiple insurance coverages into a single policy. That means only one claim form and one point of contact,” he said.

“In addition to expanding coverage, CAP streamlines the dreaded ‘paperwork overload’ from dealing with multiple insurance agencies, thus adhering to our philosophy of keeping it simple,” Heasley went on to say.

CAP policies may be applied to new and/or existing loan portfolios. Coverages within the policy may be customized, mixed and matched depending on the insured party’s needs and preference.

For more information, contact KISS Concepts Group at (844) 857-0869.

Peritus Portfolio Services surpasses $100M in bankruptcy loans

Peritus Portfolio Services, which services auto-secured Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy loans, announced this week that its total outstanding balances currently under management now stands at more than $100 million.

President Gary Perdue, who founded the company five years ago, said, “We are excited about our business and what we offer to the auto finance market. 

“We exclusively service auto loans in bankruptcy proceedings,” Perdue continued. “Management and most of our service employees have many years of experience in the auto finance industry, and as a result I believe our performance exceeds those companies that service multiple product lines”

Peritus offers a variety of levels of service that ranges from filing proof of claims, handling reaffirmations, and monitoring, to full liquidations servicing. Peritus also has a solution for buy-here, pay-here dealerships that wish to sell portfolios of auto-secured bankrupt accounts.

“We have found that Peritus stands out well above others in their specialized field,” said Sam Ellis, chief executive officer of DriverUp, parent company of Sierra Auto Finance.

“They maximize recoveries for lenders, but still place priority on truly helping the consumers, and do more than just the minimum required to be federal bankruptcy law compliant,” Eillis added. “They are really good at what they do.”

Peritus works with clients of all sizes, from buying and servicing accounts from BHPH dealers to servicing portfolios for one of the largest debt buyers in the U.S.

“I have been in the auto finance industry for over 25 years,” Perdue said. “I focused on bankruptcy because I saw an opportunity to help small buy-here, pay-here dealers as well as large auto finance companies increase recoveries, while reducing overhead.” 

For more information on Peritus Portfolio Services, go to or send a message to           

Car-Mart, J.D. Byrider open new stores

Two of the largest buy-here, pay-here dealership chains — America’s Car-Mart and J.D. Byrider — recently opened new stores, each one expanding their footprints in the Southeast.

Longtime franchisees Steve and Jeanne Locklear recently rolled out their fourth dealership, broadening J.D. Byrider’s presence in Florida to 10 locations. The new store is located at 707 N. New Warrington Road in Pensacola, Fla.

The facility includes 20,000 square feet with 10 service bays. The dealership will also create approximately 15 new jobs.

“Pensacola is an exciting community for us to open a J.D. Byrider dealership,” said Michael Anglin, general manager of the new location.

“We look forward to bringing industry-leading financing options and the company’s brand promise — to offer good, reliable vehicles to those with less-than-perfect credit — to the area,” Anglin continued.

Including the new Pensacola location, J.D. Byrider now has opened a total of seven new dealerships in 2015. The company now has 169 locations in 34 states.

“Steve and Jeanne Locklear are exceptional operators and will undoubtedly enhance our brand as they expand into Pensacola,” J.D. Byrider vice president of franchising Tom Welter said. “Like many of our franchisees, they know the value of the J.D. Byrider business model and operational support, both of which drive our unprecedented store growth.”

Over at America’s Car-Mart, the company recently unveiled its 144th dealership. The store is located in Brunswick, Ga.

The move in Brunswick marks the eighth dealership in Georgia to join Car-Mart’s network. It’s also the third new dealership opening for the company’s 2016 fiscal year.

Car-Mart indicated the Brunswick dealership will be managed by Sabrina Kirkland.

Top 10 missteps that could shut down a BHPH dealer

With the closing weekend of August upon us, Hudson Cook senior partner and chairman Tom Hudson shared his Top 10 list of practices buy-here, pay-here dealers need to recognize so they not only avoid a bad month, but the possibility of being on their way out of business.

Items such as promissory notes, deal jackets and other written policies are all mentioned by Hudson, who will deliver a keynote speech with his predictions for the next five years in the business at Innovate: The Independent Dealer Industry Conference on Sept. 20-23 in Fort Worth, Texas.

“In my 42 years practicing consumer financial services law, I've seen a lot of egregious violations by dealers, but these top them all," Hudson said.

“Let's face it — the newer regulations are highly complicated,” he continued. “It can be tempting to just bury your head in the sand and pretend you’re doing fine. If you choose that route, though, it's only a matter of time before you get a big surprise in the form of an investigation or lawsuit.”

Hudson previewed his Innovate keynote speech by outlining these clues that your dealership might use to turn an extra vehicle or two to close the month but that might soon lead to an operation shut down:

1. You don't know the difference between promissory notes and retail installment contracts.

Many dealers call the contracts that buyers sign “notes,” but they aren’t. They are retail installment contracts. Notes and retail installment contracts are completely different documents, subject to different laws. Dealers who trade vehicles for signed contracts need to understand those contracts.

2. You charge cash buyers less than you charge buyers who finance.

This is one of the biggest red flags in today’s market and must be avoided at all costs. If the financed price is higher, regulators may conclude you added an undisclosed finance charge. You may also be in violation of usury laws.

3. Your idea of obtaining documents that comply with state and federal law is to photocopy the deal jacket documents from the last place you worked.

Many well-established dealers — both buy-here, pay-here and franchised — use documents that are outdated, designed for use in other states, copyrighted, crafted by lawyers who don't know what they are doing, or are otherwise invalid.

4. You don't know the difference between precomputed retail installment contracts and interest-bearing (so called "simple interest") retail installment contracts.

Some dealers use precomputed contracts and service them as interest-bearing contracts, and vice versa. This is a huge no-no.

5. You think all your prior experience in the car business, which consists only of dealerships that sell retail installment contracts to unrelated financing sources, is enough to get by.

If you are new to the buy-here, pay-here world, you absolutely must learn how the activities of servicing, collections, repossession and sale of repossessed vehicles are regulated. If not, you will be flying blind with regard to half of your business.

6. You don't budget for legal compliance costs in your ongoing expenses.

In addition to up-front formal training, you must pay real attention to compliance issues by participating in dealer associations and 20 Groups; reading industry publications; and creating, implementing, updating and funding a credible compliance program for your dealership. Dealers should also prioritize in-person training at conferences like Innovate with a wide variety of compliance courses.

7. Your accountant and your lawyer are not well-versed in the car business.

Missing critical tax or compliance advice because your accountant and/or attorney is inexperienced with dealers is a shortcut to the poorhouse.

8. You think you can just buy your advertising from an ad agency without taking responsibility for the content of the ads.

Operation Ruse Control, led by the Federal Trade Commission and 32 law enforcement partners, resulted in 252 enforcement actions against dealers. The FTC is on a tear over dealer ads, and dealers need to understand that they are responsible for what their ad agencies do.

9. You don't have written policies for privacy safeguarding, red flags, underwriting, servicing and all your other compliance responsibilities.

Maintaining up-to-date policies is one of the clearest ways you can communicate your good faith effort to comply with regulations.

10. You think you don't need to worry about this compliance stuff because you “take good care” of your customers.

Unfortunately, it just doesn't work that way anymore. Inevitably, something will tip off a lawyer or regulator, and you will wish you had your legal house in order.

To get more detailed, real-world knowledge on buy-here, pay-here law, operators can join Hudson and some of the most-respected legal experts in the country at Innovate: The Independent Dealer Industry Conference, Sept. 20-23 in Fort Worth, Texas.

The event will feature more than 80 different classes — all more than an hour long — that dive deep into compliance, collections, finance, accounting, operations and more.

Officials insisted Innovate is one of the only events or independent dealers and finance companies with two full compliance tracks, which by themselves cover 16-20 different topics.

“In total, attendees will access more than $10,000 in legal insight for the price of admission,” organizers said.

AutoStar and DealerSocket, its parent company, expect more than 600 attendees at this year's conference, including major exhibitors and financial institutions that will showcase the latest dealership technology, best practices and industry solutions.

To view the full schedule or buy tickets, visit