If you want to get your federal tax refund as soon as possible, then the basic advice is this: File as soon as possible; file online, perhaps via the IRS-backed IRS Free File or a commercial service like TurboTax or H&R Block; and, when filing online, request your refund be sent to your bank or designated online account via direct deposit. Filing an error-free return is important, too.
Follow this formula, and the IRS says, even in this age of the, most taxpayers will receive their refunds within 21 days.
But what if you want your refund sooner than soon? What if you need it now?
The tax-refund advance is a short-term loan that gets you what's owed to you (or, at least some of the amount), sometimes as soon as the day you file. The loans are backed by your expected refund, and are usually repaid by (that is, deducted from) your eventual IRS refund.
If sitting tight for up to 21 days is impossible this year, or if you're worried about the IRS not hitting its deadline (like last year, when H&R Block and Jackson Hewitt. Both are billed as no-fee, 0% APR, or annual percentage rate, loans.), then here's a look at the refund-advance loans offered by some of the biggest commercial tax-prep services:
But if you're interested in taking advantage of these no-interest loans, you'll need to hurry: TurboTax has already ended its tax refund advance offer, and Jackson Hewitt's offer ends February 20. H&R Block's no-fee, no-interest tax refund advance offer, meanwhile, ends February 28.
H&R Block refund advance loans
H&R Block advertises $0 fee, 0% APR loans. Its Refund Advance loans are available now through February 28 in five amounts, from $250 to $3,500. H&R Block says most loan funds are made available the same day you apply for them. But, take note: The funds are only made available to you via an H&R Block Emerald Prepaid Mastercard.
The H&R Block Refund Advance loan is open to H&R Block customers who e-file through a participating H&R Block office. Eligibility is also determined in part by how much you are expected to receive in your federal refund.
Jackson Hewitt refund advance loans
Like its top competitors, Jackson Hewitt promotes no-fee, 0% APR refund-advance loans that are repaid from your federal refund. Loan amounts are offered from $500-$3,500; loans are available through February 20. The loan, called the No Fee Refund Advance, is open to customers who file their taxes through Jackson Hewitt. Like H&R Block, you have to visit a brick-and-mortar office in order to apply. (Some Jackson Hewitt locations are located within Walmart stores.)
Jackson Hewitt says those with approved loans may receive their funds, via a Serve American Express Prepaid Card, within a matter of minutes. Loan eligibility is determined by a number of criteria, including your history of IRS payments.
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