In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Jan. 30, 2007 / 11 Shevat, 5767

Tax-time saving tip: Free filing is available

By Vicki Lee Parker

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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | (MCT) There are several things that consumers do that make me want to grab them by the collar and shake some sense in them - a phrase my grandmother was fond of using whenever I made a fool of myself.

Topping my list today: people who agree to pay excessive fees for refund anticipation loans offered by the major tax preparers, such as H&R Block and Jackson Hewitt.

What rattles my nerves is that many of the people paying these fees have low or moderate incomes, and they would qualify to have their returns done for free. If most of them would just wait a week or so, they could have the full refund they are entitled to - and save several hundred dollars to boot.

The fees for refund anticipation loans can be staggering.

Customers are typically charged fees for the refund anticipation loan, electronic filing, tax preparation and a short-term bank account for those who don't have a checking or savings account. It can easily add up to $250, or even as much as $400, depending on the size of the loan.

And now, with the newest pay-stub lending product - where tax preparers use consumers' year-end pay stubs to estimate their refund and sell them a loan based on that amount - that figure could increase by $100 more.

Despite stern warnings from consumer advocates that refund anticipation loans are rip-offs, people still march into tax preparation offices and demand them. And the companies continue to market them, despite increasing criticism.

"There were 492,318 refund anticipation loans in North Carolina in 2004," said Adam Rust, research director at the Community Reinvestment Association of North Carolina in Durham. Nearly two-thirds went to filers who were eligible for the federal Earned Income Tax Credit, given to qualifying low- to middle-income families, he said. That resulted in about $62 million going to large corporations instead of families.

"To have the EITC be undermined by a product like this I'm sure is frustrating to the people who designed" the tax credit, he said.

Given all the cons of these loans, I was struggling to understand why so many would get them. Then I thought about my grandmother.

She would often ask me, "Girl, don't you know better than that?" Sometimes the honest answer was, "No, I don't."

I found that that was the case with many people who apply for refund anticipation loans. They are not aware of some of the programs available to help them prepare their tax returns for free and get them all of their refund.

So here are some things that people should know if they are thinking about applying for a refund anticipation loan:

  • It no longer takes months to get a refund from the IRS. If you file your federal tax return electronically, you could receive your refund in 10 days, and no later than three weeks. For tax returns filed through regular mail, the refund would take no more than six weeks. So if you can wait a week or so, you can save several hundred dollars.

  • Households earning $52,000 or less can qualify for free IRS electronic filing. Just go to www.irs.gov, click on the "e-file" icon, then click on the "free file" link.

  • If you prefer to work with a tax preparer face to face, you can set up an appointment with an IRS volunteer at a network of free tax preparation sites around the state during tax season. They prepare returns for people whose household incomes are $39,000 or less. To find the nearest Volunteer Income Tax Assistance office, call (800) 829-1040.

I know that there are a few financial emergencies that might justify paying high fees for a refund anticipation loan, such as if you are about to be evicted. But there are far more reasons not to get one.

And now that you know some of those reasons, here is one more pearl of wisdom from my grandmother: "Now that you know better, do better."

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Vicki Lee Parker is a columnist for The News & Observer. Comment by clicking here.


College money is waiting; don't procrastinate
Extended warranties rarely worthwhile
Too busy for tax planning? It'll cost you

© 2007, The News & Observer Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services