Rollback on Tax Refund Loans Good for Consumers

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(McClatchy-Tribune Information Services) — Want your tax refund faster?  Rather than wait for a refund check to come in the mail or be direct-deposited into a bank account, some taxpayers opt to get it immediately. For a price.  They use what’s officially called a Refund Anticipation Loan, or RAL. Consumer groups derogatorily refer to them as tax refund “quickies.” Long offered by some of the nation’s biggest tax preparation companies, RALs are short-term loans backed by the “anticipated” tax return. You get your money fast, usually within one to two days, but with hefty fees deducted.  Typically marketed to low- or moderate-income individuals, RALs are touted as a “financial lifeline” providing instant cash to help pay bills or unexpected expenses.  But they don’t come cheap. And under scrutiny by consumer groups and others, they may be heading toward extinction.  In recent months, a number of big-name tax preparers, including H&R Block, have stopped offering RALs because their banking partners have been forced to back out by federal regulators.

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