April 12th, 2011 3:24 pm | by NIGEL JAQUISS News | Posted In: Politics, Legislature

Waiting For A Tax Refund? Don't Get Screwed

Scales of Justice

As the April 18 tax filing deadline rapidly approaches, many Oregonians are looking forward to refunds. But some of them, chances are, will fall into a trap more costly than taking out a payday loan. 

The Portland advocacy group, Economic Fairness Oregon, has looked into what are called Refund Anticipation Checks. Such checks are effectively a way for cash-strapped taxpayers to borrow the cost of paying their tax preparers and get what's coming back to them from the tax man faster—minus what EFO says are hefty fees. 

Here's the analysis from EFO's blog of the checks, or RACs:

Just how bad a deal is a RAC? To illustrate, EFO calculated the cost of a RAC versus a payday loan (for those who need a refresher, the Oregon legislature recently cracked down on payday loans because of their abusive fees). The cost of a RAC, including the fees to receive a check or use a prepaid debit card, ranges from $50-$60, while the amount a taxpayer would pay to borrow the average preparation fee of $187 from a payday lender is around $25. That means a RAC is at least twice as much as a payday loan!
A pending piece of legislation, Senate Bill 778, would require greater disclosure of the fees associated with Refund Anticipation Checks and penalize abusive providers. The measure is co-sponsored by Sens. Jackie Dingfelder (D-Portland) and Chris Telfer (R-Bend and a certified public accountant) and Reps. Tina Kotek (D-Portland) and Katie Eyre Brewer (R-Hillsboro and also a CPA)

The bill is expected to get a second hearing later this week.
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