Although consumers in a tight spot financially can try to access their tax refunds early, the process usually costs more than it is worth. "It's quite expensive, when you think about it," notes Chi Chi Wu, staff attorney for the non-profit National Consumer Law Center. "At $30 to defer payment of about $200 for 20 days, you're talking a triple-digit APR." Specifically, this example amounts to a 273.75 annual percentage rate, plus the filer will have to forfeit some of the return to pay for the tax-preparation services. Refund anticipation loans largely have been forced out of business but the practice itself is not illegal, so many "fringe banks" and payday lenders still offer the products. A 2010 report from the U.S. Treasury found that most taxpayers who choose these alternatives are from low-income households, especially those who qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit. Many of them, however, may qualify for help from the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and AARP-sponsored tax counseling for the elderly. Consumers who are desperate for immediate cash also could seek out small loans from a bank or a credit union, or help from local non-profit credit counselors.