It’s interesting to see that the form outlines he could get direct deposit for free from the IRS
The rest of the fee came from the $92 “bank transmittal fee” (which, I was told, is something anyone doing taxes is going to charge you). This is the fee for The Bancorp Group (a third party) to create a bank account for the IRS refund to be directly deposited in. After the funds hit this account, the e-file group/Advance America take out their fees (in this case, $207) and then deposit the rest of the return into [the tester]’s regular checking account. More information about this process can be found on pages 7-9 of the attachment. I don’t understand exactly how the $92 figure was derived, given that “e-direct” box on page 9 seems to imply these fees are lower. One interesting thing about the whole process is that none of the fees seem to be flat fees and the staff was unable to tell us what any fees would be until the end. They kept saying it was all based on your tax return, and they seemed surprised themselves at the fees charged (they thought they were pretty low).
When [the tester] was given this form to sign the box was already checked on page 9 for him to have the e-direct option. This was not explained explicitly. ” I was scanning these forms with [the tester] and really wish I’d done a better job, as the first page he signed allowed his personal information to be shared. Also, I am unsure how well, if at all, the no charge direct deposit option from the IRS is explained to customers. I called ahead to see what we needed to bring into the store, and at this time asked about the fees and if I needed to bring money in to pay the filing fee. The AA staff member told me I could do it either way (i.e., pay the fee in cash or have it taken out of the refund) and that we could talk about this when I came payday loans in Ohio in. The person I talked with on the phone was the same person preparing our taxes later that same day, so she remembered this conversation. She said “it’d cost a little bit more” if we had the fee taken out of the refund, but also said this (direct deposit) method was the fastest way to get the refund back. From this point on, using the e-direct method was just referred to as “direct deposit.” I am unsure how this more costly method would have been marketed had I not inquired about paying the filing fee upfront, but it is my perception that the more costly options are marketed to customers as the easier options, and there is likely no mention of being able to get free direct deposits from the IRS.
In fact, when given the forms to sign the only explanation was “I just need you to read and sign this
Fees are not discussed up front, and are fairly costly. An additional fee that we declined was for “audit protection,” which the staff explained would protect us if the IRS decided to audit [the tester]’s return.
Taxpayers are not given copies of their 1040 or any related schedules. They are also not told what credits were taken or how their refund was computed.
Very little documentation is given to taxpayers, including no documentation listing the fees charged (my perception is that the printout I got with the fees is not something regularly shared with customers).
For example, if customers pay their filing fee upfront, they are able to get refunds direct deposited into their accounts for no cost (through the IRS’ direct deposit/e-file program). However, if customers aren’t able to pay their filing fee upfront, they can elect to have it taken out of their refund through the e-direct method. This requires a “bank transmittal fee,” which is really a fee/interest charged to the customer to loan him or her their filing fee. In [the tester]’s case, his APR would have been 2092%, if you consider he was charged $92 to borrow $115 (the filing fee) for roughly 10 days (the staff explained he could have gotten his refund in about 5 days…but did say it could be up to 2 weeks).