Walmart announced the roll out of its Direct2Cash tax refund program on Tuesday, January 20th. This new program from the nation’s biggest retailer allows taxpayers without a bank account to collect their tax refund with less effort and minimal expense.

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Note that Walmart is not charging any fee at all for the service, but you must use the services of one of 25,000 tax preparers nationwide to participate in the program, and they may charge you a fee for the cash refund service.

Industry analysts point out that February was a very weak month for Walmart last year, and that the Direct2Cash program is pretty clearly an effort to boost sales in a slow month.

Not a refund anticipation loan

Financial experts note that Walmart’s Direct2Cash program is not a refund anticipation (RAL) service. In fact it’s not really a loan at all. It’s an e-check/check cashing service

More on Direct2Cash

Tax preparers who are participating in the Direct2Cash program may offer the service to customers for up to $7 at the time of filing (and some preparers have said they will not charge a fee). Customers will receive a confirmation code for their federal and/or state tax return via email shortly after they file their taxes. Customers can then stop by the Walmart MoneyCenter or customer service desk at participating Walmart stores, present their confirmation code, and then receive their refund in cash.

The retailer points out that cash refunds up to $7,500 are eligible for the Direct2Cash service. Moreover, if filing jointly, both filers must be present to receive their cash refund. Also note that confirmation codes do expire and the expiration dates may vary.

Statement from Walmart

When asked what the firm is getting out of the program if they aren’t charging a fee, Daniel Eckard, senior vice president for services for Walmart, noted: “It’s always a good thing to have customers in our stores who have jiggles in their wallets and their pockets.”