Consumer Watch - Free Tax Prep at Walmart?

By Brian Rae
Consumer and Taxpayer Advocate

OSPIRG’s Consumer Watch 

A summary of local and national consumer alerts from your local consumer advocates.

OSPIRG publishes a weekly digest to summarize the latest news and alerts for local consumers. Please contact Brian Rae (contact info below) with any questions, tips or for interviews. 

• Free Tax Prep at Walmart? Not exactly.

HR Block has teamed up with Wal Mart to offer in store free tax prep, however it is “free” for clients that filed a 1040 EZ, just 16% of their clients. This does not include taxpayers with kids, any requesting the earned income tax credit or any non standard deductions. 

In addition getting your taxes done for "free" and then getting your tax refund on a Walmart prepaid card comes with pitfalls, including (1) fees and (2) the chance that you'll just dump the money on the card into impulse purchases at Walmart. Fees include $3 if $1,000 isn't added to a card in a given month, $2 to withdraw cash from an ATM, $1 to check your balance and $3 to replace a lost or stolen card.

There are many free options for Tax Prep such as IRS' VITA Program, and the Benefit Bank.


Feeling the Chill? Keep an eye on electric heaters.

Kaz has recalled 19,000 Honeywell portable electric heaters due to a possible burn hazard. The heaters were sold nationwide at Best Buy and Walmart stores between July 2011 and December 2011.  Check the recall release for pictures and product specifics. 

Portable electric heaters can pose a serious fire hazard, its important to operate them safely during these chilly nights and remember to never leave them unattended and keep them several feet away from an combustible materials such as bedding.  See more tips from the Consumer Product Safety Commission and a complete list of recalled heaters.

Defend the CFPB

Tell your senators to oppose the “Financial CHOICE Act,” which would gut Wall Street reforms and destroy the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as we know it.

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