Friday, May 16, 2008

Stimulus Payments -- Rapid Refunds (RAL and RTs) Screwing the Poor Again

I know I said i wasn't going to write but getting a tad pissed off at the government is as good a reason as any.

I was expecting my stimulus check today in perfect timing to cover some of the myriad of bills I have incurred over the past year -- I was looking forward to the respite. Around 4pm I check my account to discover no check, and so I started to dig around the IRS website. They have brilliantly started a "Where's my Stimulus Check" program, and after entering all of my pertinent information I discover a horrible problem.

My former employer was a small tax firm, so needless to say we prepared a fair number of personal income tax returns. When I purchased my home (before I realized the necessity to move to SLC) my employer gave me a small loan to cover closing cost. While I was working for him he didn't try to collect at all, but when I quit he started pursuing repayment a little more anxiously. So when I filed my tax return I decided (per convenience) that I would have my anticipated refund transferred to my former employer via RT (refund transfer -- a regularly used means of ensuring payment in tax prep firms). The problem occurs due to the fact that the bank account on your return if you use an RT or RAL (rapid refund) is a one time use account, and the IRS therefore never receives your accurate account information and the user of the RT or RAL is left (likely unwittingly) waiting for a paper check that will come much later. (mid-July in my case) I don't think this was communicated in a very vigorous fashion to tax practitioner firms during the filing season -- when the info would have been most helpful.

I assume that my old company may be like many other tax firms in the nation -- unaware of this information when it mattered during the filing season. As a rule (at least as far as I have observed) the majority the people who use these services are the people that need help financially the most. In regards to RAL's especially, these individuals are often charged exorbitant banking fees, and many may currently have a shock when they discover how much longer they will have to wait for the much needed assistance promised from the stimulus package.

Oops, but really did anyone expect anything more from the IRS?

1 comment:

Mary Lopez said...

It was an interesting post!! Awesome, right?