CHICAGO, IL– March 21, 2011 – Many Americans are looking forward to the expected refunds from their 2010 Federal Income Taxes. Many people may also consider applying for a Refund Anticipation Loan (RAL) to speed up the process of receiving the refunds that they expect. The Better Business Bureau suggests consumers consider all of the options before deciding how to collect their refunds this year.
A RAL is an advance payment based on the amount of your refund, minus fees and interest charged by the tax preparation service offering the loan. While RALs might be a good source of instant cash, the Better Business Bureau warns that they may come at a high cost.
“Taxpayers needing their tax refund money immediately may not consider that their instant refund comes at a high price,” said Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “However, if taxpayers filed online, they would receive their refunds in approximately ten days and would save a substantial amount in interest and fees incurred with a refund anticipation loan.”
If you are considering an instant refund loan, the BBB offers the following advice:
· Use e-File and Direct Deposit? The fastest and most secure way for you to get your refund is to file your taxes online and then allow a direct deposit of the refund into your bank account. Taxpayers can have the money usually in eight to 15 days.
· Be cautious with debit card offers. Some tax preparers offer to provide instant refunds on debit cards. However, these cards may include hidden fees and can have limits on how much money you can access, which means you would incur the high transaction fees over and over again.
· Shop around for the best RAL deal. Fees and interest rates for RALs vary by tax preparer so compare a few before selecting one, if you absolutely need you refund immediately.
· Check with the BBB first. Before you sign a contract, be sure to check out the tax preparer’s record of integrity and performance at www.bbb.org
As a private, non-profit organization, the purpose of the Better Business Bureau is to promote an ethical marketplace. BBBs help resolve buyer/seller complaints by means of conciliation, mediation and arbitration. BBBs also review advertising claims, online business practices and charitable organizations. BBBs develop and issue reports on businesses and nonprofit organizations and encourage people to check out a company or charity before making a purchase or donation.