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A sad situation at VITA tax prep site today. Woman came in, she'd had her return done at a commercial tax prep place a week or so ago. (I won't name the outfit, but they advertise heavily on TV...) She subsequently received an additional W-2, and needed to do an amended return. Ok, we can do that. Looked at her paperwork, she was getting a federal refund of about $350, MD state refund of about $100. Return might have taken all of 10 minutes to do - just a single W-2 and EIC. Company charged her $139 for that - and then charged her another $20 for the privilege of getting one of these stupid RALs (Refund Anticipation Loan) at an effective annual interest rate of 300% or so.

I don't know what's worse - elderly taxpayers who are scraping by on a little social security and maybe a small pension, or low-income taxpayers with low-paying jobs (often several such jobs), and little prospects of ever digging themselves out of their holes.

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