Getting an advance on your tax refund may seem like a more attractive proposition this year — yet it's not a move to make lightly.
A growing number of consumers have been using financial products at tax time that promise to advance them part of their tax refund. In 2017, taxpayers took out more than 1.7 million so-called refund anticipation loans, or RALs, up from 1.5 million the year before, according to a 2018 report from the National Consumer Law Center. (Another 20.5 million obtained a refund anticipation check, or RAC, up from nearly 19 million in 2016. Such transfers don't speed up your refund, but rather act as a loan of the tax prep fees, which the preparer deducts from the refund when it arrives.)
Part of that swelling demand stemmed from new anti-fraud regulations that took effect last year, delaying refunds until mid-February for consumers claiming the earned income tax credit or the additional child tax credit.