CONTACT:  Julie Willmot
(609) 278-7137

TRENTON, N.J.
— The Mercer County Division of Consumer Affairs is warning residents about tax preparers who falsely advertise “same day” tax refunds or Refund Anticipation Loans (RAL).  These instant tax refunds are really costly loans paid from their tax refunds.

AN RAL is a high–cost loan that is secured by the taxpayer’s anticipated tax refund.  RALs can carry triple-digit interest rates, hidden fees and may expose consumers to unpaid debt, if their tax refund is not as much expected.  Mostly, RALs are targeted at the working poor, especially taxpayers eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit, the largest federal anti-poverty program.

Consumers should be aware of store front signs, posters and flyers luring them into their business.  Any advertisement claiming your refund will arrive in 24 or 48 hours is actually a loan.  It’s impossible to get an actual refund that quickly.

The fastest way for a consumer to get their refund from the IRS is to file electronically and have the refund direct deposited into their bank account.

Consumers who sign up for RALS without receiving full disclosure of the terms and conditions of the loan may file a complaint with the Mercer County Division of Consumer Affairs by calling 609-989-6671 or going to www.mercercounty.org for complaint form.