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Refund anticipation loans could cost more in long-run

Instant tax refunds bring high interest rates


LA CROSSE, Wis. -- If you're looking to get your tax refund as quickly as possible, you may want to think twice before cashing in on a service offering instant tax refunds.

Wisconsin's Department of Consumer Protection is warning people about refund anticipation loans.

The service allows you to get a loan for your expected tax return, but often comes with high interest rates.

The rates can be anywhere from 70 percent to 700 percent.

Division Administrator of Trade and Consumer Protection Sandy Chalmers suggests you e-file your tax return to make sure you get your refund as quickly as possible while avoiding fees.

"With the state, if you e-file with the direct deposit refund, you can have access to your money as quickly as 7-10 days. It's a pretty good deal," she said.

Chalmers said one reason people are drawn to the refund anticipation loans is that they they are tight on money.

She said, "If you are in desperate need of your tax refund to pay a bill, let your creditor know that you have e-filed your return and that you expect your refund soon."

A Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Tax Counseling for the Elderly site will open in early February at La Crosse Main Library.

The service is to help low to moderate income residents, seniors, veterans, and people with disabilities e-file their tax returns.

The site will be open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

The hours will be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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