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Tax Refund Loans: Get an Advance in 2023

15 min.

As tax season approaches, many people are eagerly anticipating their tax refunds. While waiting for the refund to arrive, some may find themselves in need of immediate financial assistance. This is where tax refund loans come in.

Tax Refund Loans: Get an Advance in 2023

Tax refund loans provide a quick advance on anticipated tax refunds, allowing individuals to cover their expenses while they wait for their refunds to arrive. However, before applying for a tax refund loan, understand the terms, tax preparation fees, and potential risks involved.

In this article, you can find out about the ins and outs of tax refund loans, including how they work, who is eligible, and what to consider before taking one out.

What is a Tax Refund Loan?

A tax refund loan, also known as a tax refund advance or a refund anticipation loan (RAL), is a short-term loan that is offered by tax preparation companies or lenders to individuals who are expecting a tax refund from the government. The loan is typically based on the amount of the anticipated tax refund and is secured by the refund itself. The borrower agrees to pay the loan back with interest when they receive their tax refund from the government.

A tax refund loan can provide individuals with quick access to cash before their actual refund is issued by the government. This can be helpful for people in need of money right away for unexpected expenses, bills, or other financial obligations. However, tax refund loans can come with high interest rates and fees, so borrowers should be cautious and understand the terms and costs associated with the loan before agreeing to it.

In recent years, some tax preparation companies have started offering "no fee" or "zero interest" tax refund loans, which may seem like a good deal for borrowers. However, read the fine print carefully, as these loans may still come with hidden fees or conditions that could end up costing the borrower more in the long run.

Some tax preparation companies may offer a "tax refund advance," which is similar to a tax refund loan but may not require a credit check or have as many fees associated with it. However, these advances may still come with high interest rates and should be approached with caution.

Overall, tax refund loans can be a useful option for individuals who need quick access to cash and are expecting a tax refund. However, borrowers should consider the costs and terms of the loan before agreeing to it and explore other options, such as personal loans or credit cards, if possible.

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Pros and Cons of a Tax Refund Loan


  • Quick access to funds. Tax refund loans provide taxpayers with immediate access to funds they expect to receive as a refund from the government. This can be useful for people who need the money urgently.

  • No upfront costs. Tax refund loans typically do not require upfront costs, meaning borrowers can access their expected refund without having to pay anything out of pocket.

  • Easy application process. The application process for tax refund loans is usually straightforward and can be completed online or in person with a tax preparer.


  • High interest rates. Tax refund loans can come with high interest rates and fees, making them an expensive option for borrowing money. Borrowers may end up owing more than their anticipated refund once interest and fees are factored in.

  • Potential for hidden loan fees. Some lenders may charge additional fees for services like electronic filing or setting up direct deposit, which can add to the overall cost of the loan.

  • Risk of rejection. Tax refund loans are typically granted based on the expected refund amount, and if the refund ends up being less than anticipated or is delayed, the borrower may be unable to repay the loan.

  • Limited loan amount. Tax refund loans are generally only available for a portion of the anticipated refund, which may not be enough to cover all the borrower's financial needs.

How Much do Tax Refund Loans Cost?

A tax refund loan is a type of short-term loan offered by some tax preparation companies and financial institutions that allows borrowers to receive a portion of their anticipated tax refund in advance. The cost of a tax refund loan in the USA can vary depending on the lender and the terms of the loan.

One of the highest costs of a tax refund loan is the interest rate, which can be much higher than other types of loans because of the short-term nature of the loan and the perceived risk to the lender. According to the National Consumer Law Center, interest rates for tax refund loans can range from about 36% to over 500% APR, with an average rate of about 200% APR.

Besides the interest rate, there may be other fees associated with a tax refunds loan, such as origination fees or application fees. Some lenders may also charge a fee for the electronic transfer of the loan funds to the borrower. Read the fine print and understand the fees associated with the loan before agreeing to the terms.

Another cost to consider is the potential loss of a portion of the anticipated tax refund. This is because tax refund loans are often offered in the form of a refund anticipation check (RAC) or a refund anticipation loan (RAL). With a RAC, the borrower receives a check or a prepaid card that is loaded with the loan amount minus any fees and interest. The borrower can then use the check or card to pay bills, make purchases, or withdraw cash. When the actual tax refund is received from the government, it is deposited into a temporary bank account set up by the lender, and the loan amount is repaid. Any remaining refund amount is then disbursed to the borrower. With a RAL, the lender advances the loan amount and fees, and the borrower repays the loan when the tax refund is received.

Where to get Tax Refund Loans

Tax refund loans are a short-term financial solution for people who need quick access to funds based on their expected tax refund. Tax refund loans can be obtained from various lenders, including banks, credit unions, and online lenders. These are the places where you can get tax refund loans:

  • Tax preparation companies. Many tax preparation companies offer tax refund loans to their customers. These companies include H&R Block, Jackson Hewitt, and Liberty Tax. These loans are often offered in partnership with banks or online lenders, and they are typically available to customers who file their taxes electronically.

  • Online lenders. Online lenders offer tax refund loans that are typically faster and easier to obtain than loans from traditional banks. These lenders may not require a credit check or collateral, and they often provide same-day or next-day funding. Some of the popular online lenders that offer tax refund loans include TaxSlayer, TurboTax, and Refund Anticipation Loans.

  • Credit unions. Credit unions are not-for-profit financial institutions that offer a range of financial products and services to their members. Many credit unions offer tax refund loans to their members, with lower interest rates and fees than traditional banks. Some credit unions may also offer free tax preparation services to their members.

  • Banks. Some banks offer tax refund loans to their customers, but these loans are less common than they used to be. Banks typically require good credit and may charge higher interest rates and fees than other lenders. Banks may also require collateral or a co-signer to secure the loan.

Qualify for a Tax Refund Loan

To qualify for a tax refund loan, you need to meet certain requirements. These requirements depend on the lender, but some of the common qualifications are:

  1. A filed tax return. You need to have filed your tax return with the IRS. Some lenders may require you to have a minimum refund amount.

  2. Employment. You need to have a steady source of income. Lenders may ask for your employment information or pay stubs to verify your income.

  3. Identification. You need to provide a government-issued ID such as a driver's license, passport, or state ID.

  4. Credit check. Some lenders may perform a credit check to assess your creditworthiness. However, there are also lenders that offer tax refund loans without credit checks.

  5. Bank account. You need to have a bank account to receive your tax refund. Most lenders will deposit the loan directly into your bank account.

  6. Residency. You need to be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident with a valid Social Security number.

Alternatives to a Tax Refund Loan

If you need cash before receiving your tax refund, there are alternative options to consider that don't come with the high interest rates and fees associated with tax refund loans. Here are a few tax refund loan alternatives to consider:

  • File your taxes electronically and opt for direct deposit. One of the easiest and quickest ways to receive your tax refund is to file your taxes electronically and opt for direct deposit. This option allows you to receive your refund in as little as 21 days without any additional fees.

  • Take advantage of free tax preparation services. If you're concerned about the cost of preparing your tax return, look into free tax preparation services. The IRS offers its Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, which provides free tax preparation services to those who earn $57,000 or less. The Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program offers free tax help to seniors.

  • Consider a personal loan. If you need cash before your minimum federal tax refund arrives, consider a personal loan. While personal loans may come with higher interest rates than traditional bank loans, they can be a more affordable option than tax refund loans. Compare rates and terms from multiple lenders before committing to a loan.

  • Ask for an advance from your employer. If you need cash before your tax refund arrives, consider asking your employer for an advance on your paycheck. While this option may not be available to all employees, it can be a more affordable option than a tax refund loan cost.

  • Sell unwanted items. If you have unwanted items around your home, consider selling them to generate cash. You can sell items on online marketplaces like eBay or Craigslist or consider hosting a garage sale.

Can I get an advance on my tax return?

Yes, you can get an advance on your tax return through a tax refund loan or early refund advance loan. These refund advance loans and tax refund loans allow you to borrow against your expected tax refund amount, so you can receive a portion of it upfront instead of waiting for the IRS to process your return.

Where can I borrow my tax refund?

You can borrow against your tax refund through various lenders, including some tax preparation companies, online lenders, and banks. Tax preparation companies offer their own refund advance products, while online lenders like TurboTax and Credit Karma also offer fee refund advance loan programs. Additionally, some banks and credit unions offer tax refund advance loan options or personal loans that can be used to borrow against your expected refund amount.

What qualifies you for a refund advance?

To qualify for a refund advance, you typically need to meet eligibility requirements, such as having a minimum expected refund amount, filing your taxes with a certain tax preparation company, and having a history of timely tax filings. Each lender may have different requirements, so it's important to check with the specific lender you're considering to see if you qualify for their refund advance product.

What is a tax advance?

A tax advance is a loan that allows you to borrow against your expected tax refund amount. This loan is typically offered by tax preparation companies or other lenders and can provide you with a portion of your expected refund amount upfront, usually within a few days of applying. Tax advances are typically repaid using your actual tax refund once it's processed by the IRS, so it's important to carefully consider the terms and fees associated with any tax advance before taking out the loan.
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