One of the topics state lawmakers will almost certainly be debating this fall is changing Pennsylvania's check cashing regulations.

Presently, check cashing stations which cash payroll and other checks for fees are basically illegal in the Keystone State. That almost changed in the spring with a proposal to legalize such locations. Fortunately, it hadn't become a law.

And hopefully, it won't become a law this fall, either.

The people who use such facilities are generally desperate. Therefore, they pay large fees to have their check cashed. In other words, they're paying the money to get the money that is their's anyway.

There's no need for such check cashers who get rich by preying on the desperate. Banks are open later in the day. There are ATM machines everywhere.

Even the IRS has changed its rules to protect such individuals who don't realize how much money they're wasting to such opportunists.

Similar to check cashing, many income tax preparation firms have been for years offering a fast refund option, which translates to a high interest, short period loan to finance a quck income tax refund.

The AARP says that although these loans are for only a short period, they translate to an average annual interest rate of 50 to 500 percent.

The IRS is forbidding such quick refunds, but allowing an option in which refunds will be deposited faster into bank accounts without the extremely high rates.

In comparison, the check cashing legislation being proposed in Pennsylvania is the same concept as quick tax refunds: you pay a large fee for your own money. It can be interpreted as paying a high interest rate, even for your own cash.

The economy is difficult and people need quick cash sometimes. But they are creating even more extreme financial hardships by tossing away their money on such unjustified fees as huge check cashing costs. Some individuals will make such a check cashing policy a weekly norm, which means in a year they could be paying hundreds of dollars in fees that they could use for something beneficial.

Hopefully the lawmakers will not cater to the wealthy check cashers who make their wallets get fatter by taking advantage of the desperate.

By Ron Gower

rgower@tnonline.com [1]