Q. What's the scoop on the "rapid refunds" I see advertised by tax preparation services?
A. Marketed as an easy way to get a faster tax refund, so-called rapid refunds are technically known as refund anticipation loans (RALs) — and note the last word.
RALs are not a courtesy advance of what you expect to get back from Uncle Sam. Rather, the tax preparer or a partner bank lends you the amount of the anticipated refund, minus interest and fees — and note the last four words.