(Updated 10:28 a.m., Tuesday) Department of Revenue Services Commissioner Kevin Sullivan announced a bold initiative Monday, which will give taxpayers an opportunity to receive their income tax refund on a debit card, instead of a check.
Those who prefer to receive theirs electronically through a direct deposit still have that option, but according to Sullivan more than 45 percent of refunds are issued by check.
“Issuing tax refunds as debit cards provides a security and convenience not available with paper checks,“ Sullivan said in a press release. “Couple that with the elimination of check cashing fees and the refund debit cards are a benefit for taxpayers and the state.”
The checks will still be issued for those receiving $10,000 more back from the state. It was unclear Monday, if the measure will save the state any money or how much it contracted with Chase to issue the cards. The contract is with the state Treasurer’s office.
There will be small fees associated with the card, such as a 75 cent fee if you want to transfer the balance to a bank account. People can avoid the fee by doing a cash advance at any bank that accepts Visa, or they can then take that cash and deposit it into their bank account.
The cards will benefit those without checking or savings accounts because they won’t have to pay the check cashing fee, Sarah Kaufman, a spokesman for the department, said.
Also if you have a checking account and wish to deposit the money it can be cashed by any bank in the state and then deposited into an account. And if you want to withdraw the money from an ATM, there’s no fee for using it at a People’s Bank or Chase ATM machine.
And if you forget to use the money for more than a year, Chase, not the state, will start taking back $1 per month. Last year, the department had a total of 17,474 refund checks that were not cashed. Of those, 11,745 were for amounts between $1 and $20.
Check out the debit card FAQ on the DRS website.