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Republic Refund Income Plunges

Steve Trager, Republic BancorpIncome from the tax refund business of Republic Bancorp plunged for the first quarter ended March 31. The company last year was the last bank to offer Refund Anticipation Loans. This year, it reported the loss of two retail tax chains that had been represented more than half of its refund transfer volume were factors as refund fee income dropped to just over $12 million for the most recently ended quarter, down from $71.7 million a year earlier.

The two chains, Jackson Hewitt Tax Services and Liberty Tax Service, cancelled their contracts last year saying that the death of RALs gave them reasons for termination. Republic disagreed and has sued Jackson Hewitt. That litigation is scheduled for arbitration in June. The bank took no action against Liberty and its parent, JTH Holdings. The companies represented about 53 percent of Republic's refund transfer volume during the 2012 tax season.

Overall, results dropped sharply. Net income fell to $13.4 million for the first quarter, a steep drop from $82.5 million in last year's corresponding quarter and total interest income and fee revenue fell to just under $21 million, down from $127.7 million a year ago. Chairman Steve Trager said last year's revenue was also skewed by a $27.9-million bargain purchase gain from the acquisition of Tennessee Commerce Bank. There were no acquisitions during the most recent quarter. Despite the events that hit the results, the core banking business remained sound, he said.

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