If you want to get your federal tax refund as soon as possible, the basic advice is: file as soon as possible; file online, possibly through the IRS IRS Free File or a commercial service like TurboTax; and, when filing online, request that your refund be sent to your designated bank or online account via direct deposit. Filing an error-free return is also important.
Follow this formula, and the IRS says, even at this time ofmost taxpayers will receive their refund within 21 days.
But what if you want to be reimbursed sooner than expected? And if you need it now?
The tax refund advance is a short-term loan that allows you to get what you are owed (or, at least part of the amount), sometimes as early as the day you file your tax return. Loans are secured by your expected repayment and are usually repaid by (ie deducted from) your eventual IRS repayment.
If it’s impossible to sit still for 21 days this year, or you’re worried the IRS won’t meet its deadline (like last year, when TurboTax, H&R block; and, Jackson Hewitt. All are billed as no-fee, 0% APR, or APR loans.), so here is an overview of the prepayment loans offered by three of the largest commercial tax preparation services:
TurboTax Refund Advance Loans
Until February 15 (or until its funding source runs out), the tax preparation giant TurboTax promises $0 fees, 0% APR early repayment loans, from $250 up to $4,000. No fees, however, does not mean no channels. TurboTax, for example, only disburses its advance loans to customers who open current accounts with its sister funding platform, Money Karma Credit. If that sounds good to you, read on to see how the service works.
First, the TurboTax Refund Advance loan is for people who expect a refund of at least $500 (not including any stimulus payment credit).
Loans are available in 10 installment amounts; within each tier, the TurboTax cashback advance will pay you up to half of your scheduled cashback. Use last year’s average federal refund amount For example: if you are expecting a repayment of $2,800, then you will fall into the TurboTax $2,000 to $2,999 tier and can apply for a loan of up to $1,000.
The advance is deposited into your Credit Karma Money checking account and available to you virtually, usually within one to two hours of the IRS accepting your return. TurboTax says most electronic file returns are accepted within 24-48 hours.
You can also access your loan amount through a Credit Karma Visa debit card, which will be mailed to you in a week or two. The debit card will be pretty much the only way to convert your loan into real money.
Another string: To be eligible for a TurboTax Refund Advance loan, you must use TurboTax to file your federal return. As we saw earlier in our guide to offers tax preparation packages which range from free to nearly $400 for a tax-prepared return involving personal and business income expenses.turbo tax
If you’re interested in the TurboTax Refund Advance, select Prepayment as your repayment option (on your TurboTax-prepared return, natch), and see if you’re eligible to apply. Eligibility is determined by a number of factors – from where you live to the forms you fill out.
H&R Block repays advance loans
H&R block also advertises $0 fees, 0% APR loans. Its prepayment loans are available through Feb. 28 in five amounts, from $250 to $3,500. H&R Block says most loan funds are made available the same day you request them. But beware: funds are only made available to you via an H&R Block Emerald Prepaid Mastercard.
The H&R Block Prepayment Loan is open to H&R Block clients who file electronically through a participating H&R Block office. Eligibility is also determined in part by the amount you are expected to receive in your federal reimbursement.
Jackson Hewitt repays advance loans
Like its main competitors, Jackson Hewitt promotes no-fee, 0% APR refund-advance loans that are repaid from your federal refund. Loan amounts are offered between $500 and $3,500; loans are available until February 20. The loan, called No Fee Refund Advance, is open to customers who file their taxes through Jackson Hewitt. Like H&R Block, you have to go to a physical office to apply. (Some Jackson Hewitt locations are in Walmart stores.)
Jackson Hewitt says those with approved loans can receive their funds, via a Serve American Express prepaid card, in minutes. Loan eligibility is determined by a number of criteria, including your IRS payment history.