One stop shopping gets new meaning at tax time

Jackson-Hewitt tax preparation kiosks are now open in more than 2,000 Walmart stores in anticipation of an onslaught of consumers eager for their refund to arrive as soon as possible. Nearly half of those who receive a refund get it in February, according to IRS data cited by Walmart, so the retailer is touting the presence of Jackson-Hewitt kiosks in its stores and a preparation fee of $38 for the most basic of returns, the 1040EZ, with only two W2s. According to Walmart research, its customers consider their tax refund check to be their biggest payday of the year and they use the money to pay bills, for savings and to buy necessities.

“We understand that tax time is a good time for our customers, who count on their refund checks and need them cashed right away,” said Jane Thompson, president of Walmart Financial Services. “One-stop shopping at Walmart means you can cash your refund check at the Walmart everyday low price and use the savings to pay your bills, transfer money to friends or family and then save more money when you shop throughout our stores.”

Walmart does offer the lowest fees in the industry, but that’s not hard to do as the typical check-cashing outfits have a reputation for exorbitant fees. At Walmart, it’s only $3 to cash a check up to $1,000 and only $6 for a check up to $5,000. It would seem that anyone who earned enough money to receive a $5,000 tax refund would have a bank at which to cash their check, but that’s another issue. The point is, Walmart could charge higher fees and still be priced well below competitors, but it doesn’t because the customer traffic is more valuable than a few points on the cashing fee. Walmart wants people with their biggest payday of the year in its stores with fresh money to buy things they want in addition to food and consumables.

“Our goal is transparency in pricing as much as possible. It helps people when they know the cost of financial products and services. We are working to make sure that happens for all our money services at Walmart,” Thompson said.