The television commercial sounds appealing, offering an instant tax refund, no need to wait for Uncle Sam to send a check. The average tax refund this year is expected to be $3,000, which makes a nice addition to any family budget. Why should we wait the four to six weeks required for the Internal Revenue Service to send our money, only two weeks if done electronically? After all, this month’s budget is tight and getting the money early will make everything work out fine.
About 1 in 10 American taxpayers will take out a tax refund loan this year, more than half of them low-wage earners. That translates to 12.7 million refund loans last year. The interest rate does not seem too exorbitant until we realize that it is only for a one-month loan. The effective annual interest rate (APR) calculates to approximately 180 percent.
In addition to the interest, the loans also require fees for loan applications, which raise the cost by an additional $406 million. The unfortunate thing is that many of the people getting these loans qualify for free online tax preparation and free electronic filing, and if they have a bank account, they could get their refund in less than two weeks.
That means Americans paid $1.4 billion in interest, and another one-half billion on fees because of loans caused by impatience. One of the most frequent causes of debt is impatience. We borrow money to get things that we could get without debt if we were simply willing to wait. The things we desire are not necessarily bad things, and might even be items that God wants us to have. Since we can use credit, there is no need to wait for God to provide.
William Shakespeare wrote, “How poor are they that have not patience!” The writer of Proverbs said, “Do not be among those who give pledges, among those who become sureties for debts” (Proverbs 22:26). Our impatience causes poverty.
We live in a society that places very little importance on patience. We want everything right now, and because it is available through credit, patience seems to be unnecessary. The apostle Paul teaches us that patience is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22). Not only will patience be a spiritual blessing, it will also provide a financial benefit as well.