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Dragged Down by IRS and IRS is Your Friend

The avoidance of taxes is the only pursuit that still carries any reward.

John Maynard Keynes

Jackson Hewitt (JTX) declined significantly yesterday on news the IRS proposed regulation to ban refund anticipation loans, or RALs. Fear of the impact the new rules could have on JTX’s business drove it and H&R Block (HRB) down, although HRB faired better as it had already been beaten down by company specific issues stemming from its subprime mortgage business.

RALs are originated to customers who don’t want to wait a couple of weeks to get their tax refund from the IRS, and thus are willing to pay a 2-2.5% (capped at $95) fee to get their money right away. Though RALs are as controversial as payday loans that charge annualized triple digit interest rates, this is not the reason why the IRS is zeroing in them. After all, the IRS mandate is to collect taxes, not to legislate morality.