The Taxing Cost of Being Poor

Then there’s credit. The poor don’t have it. What they had was a place like First Cash Advance in D.C.’s Manor Park neighborhood, where a neon sign once flashed “PAYDAY ADVANCE.” Through the bulletproof glass, a cashier in white eyeliner and long white nails explained what you needed to get an advance on your paycheck — a pay stub, a legitimate ID, a checkbook. This meant you’re doing well enough to have a checking account, but you’re still poor.

And if you qualify, the fee for borrowing $300 is $46.50.

That was not for a year — it’s for seven days, although the terms can vary. How much interest will this payday loan cost you? In simple terms, the company is charging a $15.50 fee for every $100 that you borrow. On your $300 payday loan — borrowed for a term of seven days — the effective annual percentage rate is 806 percent.

The cost of being poor is apparent everywhere.

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