(MoneyWatch) – Federal regulators have been trying for years to stop tax-preparers from offering short-term, high-cost loans that are repaid with the borrower’s tax refund. But while only a few tax preparers are offering these so-called refund anticipation loans, which have long been criticized for soaking the poor, some now offer products that do the same thing a different way.
Worse, the regulatory moves that aimed to stamp out the loans have simply made them more expensive. Among the firms still offering these loans are Jackson Hewitt Tax Service and Liberty Tax, two of the nation’s largest tax preparation firms.
HR Block, the nation’s largest tax preparation firm, exited the refund loan business, but now offers two similar products — a refund anticipation check, and something called an Emerald Advance. Who is offering what, what’s on the agenda for next year and why is it so hard to stomp out high-cost refund loans? Find out here.