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Monthly Archives: April 2016

The Clock Runs out on Proposed Payday Lending Regulation in Nebraska

A new change to the payday loan regulations in Nebraska – a change that was endorsed in full by the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, along with TD Ameritrade – has died out. This proposal would have changed the payday lending rules in big ways, but will not wind up taking effect any time soon. The bill – 1036 – was introduced by way of State Senator Kathy Campbell from Lincoln. It was designed to cap interest rates on payday loans at just 36 percent. This cap represented a major reduction from where the loan fees – when amortized for an entire year – currently stand.

In addition to APR caps, the bill was also aimed at changing the way debts are collected, while requiring more reporting to be done on the payday lending companies doing business in Nebraska. However, the payday lenders can breathe a sigh of relief, since the overhaul failed to get past the Nebraska Legislature’s Banking and Commerce Insurance Committee. This means that the 60 local payday lending locations in Omaha, and more than 90 throughout the state will operate per usual for the foreseeable future.

Senator Jim Scheer is from Norfolk and is the chair of the committee. He indicated that time was a real factor with regards to the folks supporting this bill. Those same folks met a roadblock when it came to a relatively shorter legislative session. The session this year is 60 days, while the following year will be 90. Session days alternate every year. If the senator does not name a particular bill as being a priority it will more than likely not make it out of the committee. The bill is then to be talked about on the full Legislature floor. Campbell did not indicate that the payday loans bill was a priority.

Sheer said, “It got past the point of being named a priority bill, and without that designation, it had no vehicle to get anywhere on the floor.  It didn’t make much sense from the committee’s standpoint to move it into the general file if it wasn’t going to go anywhere.”

When the 90 day legislative session rolls around there may be more time for discussions and amendments to the bill via negotiations submitted from both opponents and supporters. In a 60 day session, though, lobbyists and other interested parties do not have as much time to arbitrate and come up with solutions. This process proves disappointing to those who have a stake in the proposal.

The executive director of the Women’s Fund of Omaha Michelle Zych said, “Quite frankly, we were really surprised that it didn’t make it out of committee.” Zych’s group was the organization that originally pushed for the new regulations. Her supporters criticized the fees that are currently permitted on Nebraska payday loans. They believe that there are not many other states that will allow these higher rates, and that the fees currently contribute to consumers getting stuck in “debt traps.”

Opponents of the reform, like Brad Hill said that the industry is already sufficiently regulated and that borrowers are stopped from rolling over loans that they cannot afford to pay back in time. Hill then told the hard truth that many people don’t want to hear about: the fact that people who need small dollar loans do not have anywhere else to turn, other than to local payday lending locations or to online lending companies. Time is on the side of the payday lenders in Nebraska, for at least a little longer. Both opponents and proponents of the regulation will likely turn out in force when the time for the 90 day session arrives.

Walmart Announces New Tax Refund Cash Pickup Service

Every year as January comes to a close, people begin filing their tax returns. With this in mind, you can always count on Walmart to do what they can to turn a profit. This time around that profit may come in the form of their new service which allows consumers to forego a cash refund check with the ability to pick up their refunds in cash. As of January 20th this service is readily available and it goes by the moniker Walmart Direct2Cash. This new service promises to save customers money and time in comparison to traditional tax refund services.

Walmart is joining up with TPG, a Green Dot Company, along with Republic Bank & Trust Company, an FDIC member, two leaders in the tax-related financial service industry, to provide the Walmart Direct2Cash as a new option to millions of their customers. There are more than 25,000 tax preparation locations that are using software that directly interfaces with Walmart Direct2Cash, and this service may be provided for no additional fees, other than the initial $7 that is charged when customers file their taxes. Walmart is not charging any fees for refunds claimed at their locations.

Daniel Eckert, the Senior VP of Services for Walmart U.S. said, “know tax refunds can be one of the largest financial payouts of the year for many of our customers, and the last thing they want is to wait for their refund check to arrive and then spend money on unnecessary fees – in many cases upwards of $70 – to cash it. By skipping the check and choosing this new service, customers will not only save time, but also keep some extra cash in their pockets – two things Americans can always use more of.”

People are always looking for more convenient alternatives to the things that they already do. It seems that Walmart Direct2Cash will offer the convenience and security that consumers need, and allows everyday people to get their full refund amounts in cash, instead of a check. The government all too often mishandles refund checks, plus checks that are mailed are subject to theft, fraud and other problems. These issues can cause people to experience delays of weeks or even months while waiting for their yearly tax refund checks. With the ability to simply drop by the local Walmart to get their cash, people have an option that is a heck of a lot more convenient than the traditional refund delivery option.

When people choose the Walmart Direct2Cash option, they can also save a considerable amount of money on fees, compared to what they have to pay for the more traditional tax refund check cashing options. Take, for instance, a person who has received the average tax refund check for $2900, and who chooses to use a check cashing provider that charges 2 percent to cash checks. That fee alone could add $20 to the process of cashing a refund check; an amount that would be avoided if that same person were to use the flat rate fee charged by Walmart Direct2Cash.

Another benefit to Walmart customers comes in the form of the Jackson Hewitt tax consultants working at some participating locations. These consultants offer free tax filing assistance to customers to find eligible health care options that exist under the Affordable Health Care Act. These services help to complement the existing Walmart Healthcare Begins Here program, which provides basic health insurance guidance to customers. All of these new services go hand-in-hand with each other and provide additional revenue to Walmart, while making the entire tax refund service easier to get through for everyday consumers.