Tax refund loans, also known as refund anticipation loans (RALs), are short-term loans that allow you to borrow money based on your anticipated tax refund amount. These loans are typically offered by tax preparation companies and financial institutions during the tax season.
Tax Refund Loans Explained
Tax refund loans are typically short-term loans that allow you to borrow money against the amount of your expected tax refund. You typically apply for the loan when you file your tax return, and the loan is then paid back to the lender when your refund is received.
The amount you can borrow is usually limited to a percentage of your anticipated refund, and the loan may come with fees and high interest rates.
If you’re approved for the loan, the lender will typically deposit the funds into your bank account within a few days. When your refund is received, the lender will deduct the loan amount, fees, and interest from your refund before releasing the remaining funds to you.
Getting a Tax Refund Loan
Tax refund loans are often marketed as a quick way to get access to your tax refund money before it actually arrives. You can usually get a tax refund loan from the same tax preparation company where you file your taxes.
Banks and credit unions may also offer these loans. However, it’s important to note that not all lenders offer tax refund loans, so you’ll need to check with your tax preparer or financial institution to see if they offer this option.
Do Tax Refund Loans Affect Your Credit Score?
Most tax refund loans don’t go on your credit report. You also often won’t need to do a hard credit pull to get a tax refund pull.
The lender’s decision is usually based on your tax return and refund amount. Unlike other loans, the lender gets repaid directly from your tax return, so your credit isn’t as important for getting approved for a tax refund loan.
Taking out a tax refund loan can affect your credit score if you don’t repay the loan on time. Late payments or defaulting on the loan can result in negative marks on your credit report, which can lower your credit score and make it more difficult to qualify for loans and credit in the future.
Are Tax Refund Loans a Smart Idea?
While tax refund loans may seem like a good idea at first, they can come with high fees and interest rates that can eat into your refund. In fact, the fees and interest charges on these loans can be so high that the effective interest rate can be in the triple digits.
Additionally, if there are any issues with your tax return that delay your refund, you could end up having to pay back the loan without receiving your refund.
Before you decide to take out a tax refund loan, it’s important to consider whether it’s worth the cost.
If you need the money right away, you may be better off exploring other options, such as a personal loan or credit card. These options may have lower interest rates and fees, but it’s important to compare the costs and risks carefully before making a decision.