Monday, March 09, 2009

The Pros and Cons of Refund Anticipation Loans

In this economy, quick cash is in high demand. However, it is never a good idea to get into a new loan or financial venture without properly researching the topic. During tax season refund anticipation loans become popular as they allow you to borrow against a potential tax refund. However, these loans can be either good or bad depending on who you are and why you want one. To help decide if a refund anticipation loan is right for you, we have put together the following list of pros and cons.

Pro: Instant Cash

If you are low on cash and cannot wait for your refund to pay off some bills, a refund anticipation loan could certainly fill that role. While cash advances on a paycheck could pay for small bills that are due very soon, if you have a larger sum to pay off and no other way to do so, a refund advance loan could be very helpful.

Con: Interest and Fees

Unfortunately, the interest ad fees associated with these types of loans can be quite high. This is mostly due to the fact that the loan itself does not come from the preparers handling your taxes. Although you typically apply for and receive the loan through at a tax preparer’s office, they almost always outsource to third party lending banks.

Pro: Short Processing

As opposed to other large loans, a refund anticipation loan has a short application and approval process. Normally processing will take no more than a day, and the loan can be distributed within 24-48 hours. In comparison, traditional loans can take weeks to be approved and distributed.

Con: Payment Responsibility

Like with any loan, you are ultimately responsible for repaying the bank for the money they lent you. Therefore, if for any reason the lending bank does not receive the amount the full amount of your refund from the IRS then you will be held responsible for the difference.

Pro: No Tax Prep Fees

Usually if you decide to get a refund anticipation loan the tax preparer will deduct the cost of their services from your refund. This can be a great option for those who might not otherwise be able to afford the fees associated with professional tax preparation.

Con: Lack of Loan Education

Unfortunately, hundreds of people take advantage of refund anticipation loans every year without fully understanding their options. As with any major financial transaction you always want to carefully consider the pros and cons before making a decision, and when it comes to refund anticipation loans if you do not need the funds right away then you would probably be better off waiting for a check from the IRS.

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