What is a Refund Transfer and How Does it Work?

If you’re looking for a way to offer more to your clients, refund transfers could be a valuable addition to your tax preparation business. Here’s what they are, how they work, and how they can benefit your business.

What are refund transfers?

Also called bank products and refund settlement solutions, refund transfers are one way your clients can choose to receive their tax refunds. With refund transfers, your clients can use your services at no upfront costs and then have your fee easily deducted from their refund. 

How does the refund transfer process work?

1. Prepare return & confirm refund

After you’ve completed a client’s tax return and determined that they should receive a refund, they can elect to use the refund transfer process. 

You should make it clear that the refund transfer process is completely optional and involves some fees. For many taxpayers, the convenience of refund transfers outweighs the additional cost.

Refund transfers and refund advances are integrated into TaxSlayer Pro, giving you the ability to offer your client several options to more quickly receive their refund.

2. IRS distributes refund to the bank

Instead of receiving their money directly from the IRS, your clients’ refunds will first be routed through a refund settlement bank. These banks are specially authorized to deduct necessary fees from federal and state tax refunds and then distribute them to the taxpayer.

3. Bank handles relevant fees

The bank will deduct your preparation fee from the refund and distribute it to you, usually through direct deposit. Any other associated fees — such as service bureau fees, refund transfer fees, or transmitter fees — will also be deducted with no hassle for your client. 

4. Clients receive their money

After the bank has received payment from the IRS and processed your tax preparation fee, they’ll distribute the refund in your client’s preferred form. Depending on the bank, your client can receive their refund in the form of a check, direct deposit, or a prepaid card. 

For your clients, the refund transfer process is a simple and easy way to receive their refunds and pay for their tax preparation. 

How can refund transfers benefit your clients?

Tax preparation with no upfront cost

Refund transfers are a great option for taxpayers who can’t afford or don’t want to pay your tax preparation fee upfront. The bank will handle your fee, making the payment process as stress-free as possible for your clients.

Choice of disbursement method

Different payment options mean you can cater to clients who have a bank account as well as to clients who do not have a traditional banking relationship.

Receive money sooner

Many refund settlement banks also offer refund advances. These advances are a kind of loan that allows clients to receive their money faster than they could with a traditional refund disbursement. In this case, the bank will send payment to your client before the IRS has processed and sent their refund. All of the banks that TaxSlayer Pro partners with offer refund advances, and some of these are interest-free.

How can refund transfers benefit your tax preparation business?

Offer more to your clients

Tax preparation is competitive, and the more options you can offer your clients, the better. Offering refund transfers and refund advances can give you an edge over other tax preparers. You can help clients get their money faster and serve clients who can’t pay upfront.

Easier payments

Refund transfers streamline the payment process and prevent you from having to chase down late payments.

In a competitive market, differentiating yourself from your competitors is essential. Refund transfers can be an asset to your tax preparation business, helping you improve your cash flow and offer more to your clients. 

The information in this article is up to date through tax year 2021 (taxes filed 2022).