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It’s tax season again, and many Americans are looking forward to receiving their tax refunds. While some people wait patiently for their refunds to arrive, others are in a hurry to get their hands on the money. If you’re looking for a way to get your tax refund faster, you might be considering a tax refund anticipation loan. Before you sign up for one, however, it’s important to understand the risks and benefits of this type of loan.
A tax refund anticipation loan (RAL) is a type of loan that you can apply for to get your expected tax refund sooner. Essentially, you’re borrowing money against the amount you expect to get back from the government. The lender typically charges a fee for this service, which can be a percentage of the refund amount or a flat fee.
The main benefit of a tax refund anticipation loan is that you can get your money faster than you would if you waited for the government to process your return. This can be especially helpful if you have bills or other expenses you need to pay right away. In addition, RALs are relatively easy to apply for, and you can often get the money within a few days.
While RALs can be helpful for some people, they’re not without risks. One of the biggest risks is that you might owe more on the loan than you get back from the government. For example, if you expect to get a $2,000 refund and get a $2,500 RAL, you’ll owe the lender $500 plus any fees if your actual refund is less than $2,500. This can be a big problem if you were relying on that money to pay bills or other expenses.
In addition, RALs typically come with high fees and interest rates, which can make them very expensive. According to the National Consumer Law Center, RAL fees can range from $30 to $150 or more, depending on the lender and the size of the loan. Interest rates can be even higher, typically ranging from 35% to 500% or more APR.
If you’re looking for a way to get your tax refund faster, there are alternatives to RALs that might be a better option. One of the simplest is to e-file your tax return and choose direct deposit. This method is free, and you can often get your refund within a week or two, depending on how quickly the government processes your return.
If you need money right away and can’t wait for your refund to arrive, you might also consider a personal loan or a credit card. While these options can also come with high fees and interest rates, they might be less expensive than an RAL, especially if you can pay them off quickly.
If you’re considering a tax refund anticipation loan, it’s important to understand the risks and benefits of this type of loan. While an RAL can be helpful if you need money right away, it can also be expensive and leave you owing more than you expected. Before you sign up for an RAL, consider alternatives like e-filing and direct deposit, or a personal loan or credit card if you need money right away.