As tax season arrives, many of you are expecting tax refund checks and want that refund as soon as possible to keep yourself from going further into debt. However, I am urging people to be aware and not turn to refund anticipation loans (RALs) to receive that refund quicker. These RALs are not tax refunds; they are short-term loans against your anticipated refund. Many of these services charge an outrages interest rate for them. People who are unaware of these loans are preyed upon by tax companies who convince you to unnecessarily borrow against your own money.
Due to the predatory practices of these companies, I support the legislation that requires greater disclosure of the terms of RALs (A.1366 of 2006). Usually the details of these loans are in fine print which most people do not see. This legislation states that RALs must be clearly advertised as loans – not refunds – and tax preparers must explain that an RAL is an option, not a requirement.
New York State has increased the pace of processing tax returns. Refunds that use to take weeks to receive now only takes about five days. I urge patients from you to get your full refund and not fall into the trap of taking a loan against your own money.
If you file electronically, or e-file, you can receive your refund in half the time and not pay interest rates or other fees. For information on electronic filing, visit the Internal Revenue Service site at www.irs.gov or the State Department of Taxation and Finance at www.tax.state.ny.us.
Also, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program offers free tax help to low- to moderate-income (generally, $39,000 and below) people who cannot prepare their own tax returns. You can receive this by going to:
Hauppauge, NY 11788
Open: Monday – Friday 8:30-4:30
Items you need to bring to the VITA site
- Proof of Identification
- Social Security Card for you, your spouse and dependents
- Birth dates for you, your spouse and dependents
- Current years tax package
- Wage and earning statement(s) Form W-2, W-2G, 1099-R, from all employers
- Interest and dividend statements from banks (Form 1099)
- A copy of last year’s Federal and State returns if available
- Bank Routing Numbers and Account Numbers for Direct Deposit
- Total paid for day care provider and the day care provider’s tax identifying number
- To file taxes electronically on a married filing joint tax return, both spouses must be present to sign the required forms