The Wisconsin Credit Union League has launched a website designed to help consumers avoid high-cost loans tied to their federal tax refunds.
The league noted that IRS rules have already limited the availability of refund anticipation loans, which can charge hundreds of percent in interest, but in their place tax preparers have been offering refund anticipation checks or debit cards which can carry heavy fees.
The site advises consumers that no matter how they prepare their return, they can receive their refund for free by opening a deposit account at a credit union, in places with as little as $5. The site also tells consumers where they can get free help preparing their return.
The league said the refund anticipation check or debit card can cost about $30 but prepares can add other fees ranging from $25 to several hundred dollars.
The league reported that Wisconsin residents saved roughly $14.4 million last year by using free tax assistance sites and accepting refunds directly deposited in free deposit accounts.