Cash-strapped Americans anxious for tax refunds are increasingly turning to payment advances, prepaid cards or other costly services when getting tax preparation help, according to new federal data raising concerns among regulators about whether consumers are fully informed about the fees.
Regulators are looking to increase oversight of preparers amid the rise in “refund anticipation checks,” a type of cash advance especially popular among low-income families who receive the Earned Income Tax Credit, the government’s $65 billion cash benefit program.
The advances are being marketed as a way to get fast refunds or defer payment of tax preparation costs.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says some consumers have complaints about refund anticipation checks centered on advertising, quality of service or fees.
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