WORK-LIFE BALANCE / JAN. 27, 2015
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Walmart Turns Tax Returns to Cash Refunds

It’s refund season and one retail company is cashing out taxes for its customers—particularly for unbanked tax filers.

Walmart store locations around the U.S. are inviting filers to come and get their state and federal tax returns done.

The plus side of the offer is that the retail giant will be handing over cash refunds.

Through a refund program called Direct2Cash, customers who get their taxes filed by a Walmart tax preparer will not have to wait for a bank deposit or their refund to be sent via check.

While Walmart won’t be charging filers for the service, in-store tax preparers may charge at least $7 for assistance with the program. The mega department store also forewarns that other additional costs could possibly be applied to services that involve preparing and filing tax returns.

Walmart sees this as a great way to better their customer service and expand its available programs.

From banking and accounting services to health insurance coverage, Walmart has been on a mission to support more of its customers in many ways.

However, it’s no surprise that the company always finds a way to benefit from new developments, as well.

In-store sales have gone into a slump within the past two years due to online shopping, and the retailer has discovered many methods to improve these failing profits.

Walmart believes that this new cash option would be the perfect way to persuade customers to spend money.

"It’s always a good thing, we believe, to have customers in our stores that have a jingle in their purses and in their wallets," said Walmart’s senior vice president of services Daniel Eckert. "That’s something we like to see."

With all personal intentions pushed aside, the new initiative this tax year aims to make things a little less challenging for a certain percentage of people in the U.S.

The most important aspect about Direct2Cash is that it’s a stepping-stone for people who do not use a bank account.

According to Walmart, it’s all about "offering the unbanked a cheap way to get their refunds in cash."

Millions of households do not use banking services. As mentioned before, because repayments are traditionally disbursed by check or direct deposit, this option is a problem for unbanked filers. This is something that tax-filing companies haven’t taken into consideration.

"Walmart is definitely doing more for the unbanked than the government at this point," said one professor from the University of Georgia School of Law.

Low-income and poor workers are the main targets of the Direct2Cash program, especially since most do not use a bank account. Now, filers without a bank have the luxury of receiving their cash refund immediately without resorting to pricey check-cashing services.

Currently, e-filers and people who file their taxes themselves do not qualify for the cash option, but anyone can file their tax returns with the retail company.

Without a doubt, Walmart has made a groundbreaking difference in the taxing industry.

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