City: 'Rapid refunds' part taxpayers from money

MANHATTAN - Tax refund time could turn into high-interest loan time for some taxpayers.

The city is warning residents against taking out refund anticipation loans. While legal, the loans often stick people with interest rates of up to 300 percent. The city says lying to people about the conditions of the loan is illegal."Telling people that they're getting a rapid refund or an instant refund in a 24-hour period suggests that you're actually getting your refund," says Department of Consumer Affairs Commissioner Jonathan Mintz. "You're not getting a refund. You're getting an unbelievably expensive loan."

Mintz says his department found more than 230 violations citywide since starting a crackdown in January.Officials advise anyone wanting their money quickly to file their taxes online through e-file. The average electronic refund takes eight to 10 days.

Mintz says, unfortunately, people who have taken out refund anticipation loans are stuck with them.

Anyone wanting free or reduced-cost help preparing their taxes can contact 311.

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