WASHINGTON - A leading provider of income tax refund anticipation loans asked a federal judge Tuesday to block an Internal Revenue Service policy change.

The IRS on Feb. 16 said it will delay for up to eight weeks requests for earned income tax credits. And it said it will mail earned income refunds directly to taxpayers, even if the recipients have pledged these checks as collateral for refund anticipation loans.

Beneficial Corp. said the IRS acted in an "arbitrary, capricious, and unlawful" manner by making the changes with public notice. It asked the U.S. District Court for Delaware in Wilmington to order the IRS to follow its old policy.

An IRS spokesman declined to comment.

Beneficial chairman Finn M.W. Caspersen said in a prepared statement that the bank will find it difficult to collect its money if the IRS doesn't send the checks to the bank. This could turn a $15 million profit into an $80 million loss, he said.

Michael Crotty, the deputy general counsel at the American Bankers Association, said any bank that makes refund anticipation loans is suffering from the IRS regulations. "I'm sure it is affecting them all," Mr. Crotty said. "They all operate essentially the same way."

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