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Tax refund loan options still available, still costly

This late in tax season, you'd think that folks wouldn't be interested in tax refund anticipation loans, usually referred to as RALs, or similar refund-related products.

These quick tax cash options are typically used early in the filing season -- and sometimes before it officially starts -- by folks in a big hurry to get their federal refund money.

Well, you (and I) would be wrong for thinking the time for these fee-heavy tax refund related financial products has passed.

Although few places still offer RALs, people are still using them. Others opt for RAL variations such as refund anticipation checks, aka RACs, and debit cards onto which refunds are loaded.

Follow-up friday icon While not as costly as the the vilified RALs, those other financial products also can carry plenty of added costs, reports CBS Money Watch.

That bad tax and financial news is this week's Follow-up Friday feature

Now I understand that a lot of people don't have bank accounts so they can't take advantage of direct deposit, which usually gets refunds to taxpayers more quickly than a mailed paper Treasury check.

And apparently, most of these unbanked folks weren't impressed with the IRS' effort to issue federal tax refunds via debit cards.

I also know that sometimes real life demands you get money to pay bills and buy groceries as quickly as possible. In some instances, that means a tax refund loan seems like the best or only option.

Still, such loans, checks or debit cards could end up adding to your financial woes if you're not careful. So explore your refund loan alternatives first.

Have you ever used a tax-related refund loan, check or debit card? Was it worth the added fee? Why did you choose this refund option instead of, for example, using the Free File program?

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