With the exception of stores in a handful of states, tax filers at Jackson Hewitt stores will be able to get a small advance on their federal refund in 2015.
Online, Jackson Hewitt says that those with a refund due of at least $1,000 can potentially qualify for a $200 advance. I say potentially because it does appear that the company intends to vet their applicants. At our local store, though, the story was slightly different. The refund has now grown to $500 with the condition that approved filers are due at least $1,500.
Until this recent change, Jackson Hewitt's advance was only a fraction of the sum available at the independent preparers who had signed up to work with Refundo. Refundo's advance is $500. But of note, Jackson Hewitt is claiming a quicker turnaround. Our local store said that the $500 could be available in just three to four hours.
Online disclosures purport that 1st Money Center is the actual offeror of the loan.
As is the case with Refundo's advance, 1st Money says that their loan bears no interest or fees. I could not verify that with the company, as their only point of contact asks for the caller's social security number upon answering. I do see that they offer car title loans, single payment loans, installment loans, lines of credit, and instant cash advance.
Proceeds from the refund must be loaded on to a JH Preferred Prepaid VISA Card.
Show Me the Money. Show Me the Big Money
I find it curious that a small Texas company, operating out of a 3rd floor suite in an office building on the outskirts of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, can cash flow advances of $500 to tens of thousands of people.
Oh, and about that building....Here is a picture:
A local realtor refers to this site as the Bank of Texas Building.
There is a larger point here - and one that matters even if Bank of Texas has no relationship with 1st Money Center. The fact is, all of that capital has to come from somewhere. Could there be a relationship between these advances and one of the largest banks in the Southwest? Hard to say. I am willing to give Bank of Texas the benefit of the doubt. I have no problem with thinking that it is a bank's name that adorns the outside of a building that is pushing out refund advances to customers of one of the nation's largest tax preparation chains.
But as it is now, something does not add up. How can such a small firm provide so many dollars to so many people during a period of about six weeks? 1st Money Center cannot source brokered deposits. It cannot draw from the discount window. There is another player here. The RAL is no longer a bank product, but somewhere, there is a bank involved in the process.
Where is all of this cash coming from?