It's January again, which means that W-2 forms are filling mailboxes and millions of people are once again confronted with the Great American Dilemma: "how do I get my refund?"
Which means it's time for another rash of "Let us prepare your tax returns for you" ads, aimed primarily at the expanding population of low-income, paycheck-to-paycheck workers who are most likely to welcome a quick refund- in fact, may be relying on it to maintain a roof over their heads. That these tax-preparation agencies- which I will not mention by name, because they have a lot of money and I don't need the headache- target the most vulnerable among us makes them loathsome enough. That their ads feature grinning morons waving fans of cash in our faces make them even worse.
Here's the latest:
Gullible Moron: "I don't got my W-2 form yet."
Narrator: "No problem! We'll download it for you!"
Gullible Moron: "How much money I gonna get?"
Narrator: "We can give you an estimate within minutes!"
Gullible Moron: "When I gonna get my money?"
Narrator: "With our refund advance service, we can put the money in your hands the same day you come in!"
Cue delighted Gullible Moron driving off waving fan of cash- yay! That was so fast and convenient! These people were so nice, so helpful!
Except, let's get serious. Want your W-2 downloaded? That's going to cost you some money. Want an estimate of your refund? That's going to cost you some money. Want the money right now? There's no such thing as a "refund advance." The tax preparer who offers this is giving you a percentage of your expected refund- minus interest, minus fees, etc.- and taking advantage of what is either cluelessness on your part, or just plain desperation. When you drive off waving a fan of cash, you really ought to suppress the smile, because there's no reason to be happy about being financially abused by a company that specializes in kicking people when they are down.
These people are not being nice. They are not being helpful. They are being vultures, except that vultures actually provide an essential service by keeping nature free of disease-spreading carrion. So I'll just call them scumbags instead, and continue to wish that Congress would pass a law abolishing the "services" they "offer."