Tax Refund Advance: What You Need to Know
Many consumers plan to receive a tax refund every year. They use it for a variety of things, including paying down high-interest debt. So it’s no surprise that most would rather not wait too long to receive those funds. That’s were tax refund advance loans come in. These loans allow tax filers almost immediate access to their anticipated refunds, but they’re not as straightforward as they may appear at first. Let’s take a look at the reality of a tax refund advance.
How a Tax Refund Advance Works
Many commercial tax preparation services, such as H&R Block and Turbo Tax, offer tax refund advances. After preparing your tax return, the preparer will offer you the option of receiving your refund right away, in the form of a loan. You’ll usually receive your money the same day, and when the actual refund comes through from the IRS, it goes to the tax preparation service to repay the loan.
You’re Responsible for Paying it Back
If all goes according to plan, your refund comes through and the loan is paid off. If anything goes wrong, however, you’re still responsible for paying back the loan. Unforeseen circumstances can include simple miscalculations and denied deductions, both of which can reduce the amount of your refund. Additionally, if you owe any back taxes, unpaid child support, or are behind on federal student loan payments, your refund will go toward paying back those debts. In these cases, you’ll be responsible for paying back the entire amount of the loan, likely with interest.
Fees Will Reduce Your Refund
The cost of a tax refund advance will vary based on the tax preparation service you use. But no matter the company, the fees for taking out the loan, as well as the cost of the tax prep, will be deducted from your refund. Not to mention, many tax preparers are quite skilled at getting consumers to agree to add-on services, such as audit protection, that can further reduce the amount you end up with.
You Don’t Have Long to Wait
If you file your taxes electronically and opt to receive your refund via direct deposit, you won’t have to wait too long. According to the IRS, most consumers (approximately 90%) who file this way receive their refund in about three weeks. When you consider the fees and uncertainty involved in a tax refund advance, it’s really not long to wait.
Consider Revising Your Withholding
Rather than waiting to receive a tax refund every year, consider adjusting your withholding to have less taxes taken out. That way, you’ll have more access to more funds throughout the year, rather than in one lump sum. If you’re still convinced a refund is the way to go, be sure you plan to use it wisely.