H&R Block announced a number of refund lending enhancements in a recent news release. A side-by-side comparison chart will outline all filing options, fees, and the time that it takes to receive a refund.H&R Block will also provide a report that states, among other things, that selecting a refund anticipation loan product means that taxpayers get less of their refunds. This announcement follows H&R Block's September announcement that it is reducing the cost of refund.
In the most recent release, Mark Ernst, chairman and CEO of H&R Block says, "Besides saving our clients money, we're doing even more to make sure H&R Block customers receive the best service and disclosures in the industry."
All these disclosures are to be applauded in light of past practices, but let’s look at what it will cost for a refund anticipation loan now, according to H.R. Block. “For a $2,800 classic refund anticipation loan, which is the average loan size for H&R Block, the cost will be reduced by more than 40 percent, compared to last year when taken with a new H&R Block Emerald Prepaid MasterCard. As an 11-day loan, the finance charge on this $2,800 loan translates to a 36 percent APR, which meets benchmarks suggested by many consumer advocates.”
The availability of refund anticipation loans might be necessary from Block’s perspective to serve its client base and for competitive reasons, but maybe Block can consider adding one more disclosure for this upcoming tax year. It can take the form of a sign prominently displayed in all its offices that reads as follows: “We Strongly Advise Against Refund Anticipation Loans.”
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