Friday, January 9, 2009

Word from the Wise...

Consider this my public service announcement.... Don't get ripped off by Tax Refund Anticipation Loans. Please.... See This Article from the Red Tape Chronicles:

Bailout money used for tax refund loans?

I will quote you the most important parts in case you don't have time to read it:

Refund anticipation loans, or RALs, are a lucrative business for the tax preparers. In 2006, 9 million consumers obtained such loans, paying $1 billion in fees.

DAMN! Now that is some $$$ !!!
And In case you don't know what an RAL is:
How refund anticipation loans work
RALs work like this: When customers of storefront tax preparation companies learn that they have a tax refund coming, they are offered the chance to get the money almost immediately. For a fee, the tax preparer arranges a bank loan for the refund amount. The bank then keeps the refund when it arrives from the government.

Here is how the rip off works:

The loan fees are steep when viewed through the lens of a traditional bank loan. Expressed as an annual percentage rate, as required by Truth in Lending requirements, (Jackson Hewitt's Bank) Santa Barbara charges customers an effective annual percentage rate of 113 percent.

Consumers usually are not sensitive to this fee, however, because they don't pay it directly; it is simply deducted from their refund. Fees vary based on the size of the refund, but a consumer expecting a $2,600 refund could expect to pay about $95 in interest charges plus nearly $40 in processing fees, Fox said. Most must wait a day or two to receive their funds.

That is over $100 of your money just in fees. That is crazy. It is as bad as payday loans. Legal Loan sharks...

And a drum roll Please:

Refund anticipation loan consumers may not realize that taxpayers who file electronic returns get their refunds – for free -- in an average of 11 days.
I understand people need help with their taxes. I pay a someone to do my federal. But don't let these places talk you in to getting a LOAN for money your entitled to anyway. I want all my money. I can manage to wait 10 days. That gives me time to plan what I am going to do with it anyway. :-)

Ok. That is the end of this public service announcement.

1 comment:

  1. Go to an IRS-VITA site. The Parental Stress Center in East Liberty has one, and there is one at Just Harvest on the South Side near Station Square. Call ahead for an appointment. Get your taxes done for free (if you are single without kids, your income needs to be under 20 grand, I think it is 40 grand if you have kids).