Prepaid debit cards instead of checks?
If you're still waiting on your Economic Impact Payment and where expecting a check, the IRS says you should keep an eye out for a plain envelope. What's inside may not be what you expected, though.
Some payments are being sent as a prepaid debit card, not a check. And the envelope they're arriving in is nothing special, but it does hail from 'Money Network Cardholder Services'.
Why the cards instead of checks? The IRS says nearly 4 million taxpayers are getting the prepaid cards, and that choice was determined by the Bureau of the Fiscal Service, a part of the Treasury Department that's working with the IRS to handle payment distributions. No word on what that determination was based on.
According to a press release from the IRS, those who get the card can do the following without paying any fees:
make purchases online and at any retail location where Visa is accepted
get cash from in-network ATMs
transfer funds to your personal bank account
check your card balance online, with a mobile app, or by phone
The IRS also assures that the free pre-paid card provides taxpayers protections they'd find at their bank, including protection against fraud, loss, and other errors.
Here are some helpful links for taxpayers:
More info about prepaid debit cards
Below is information directly from the IRS press release to answer many of the frequently asked questions they're getting about Economic Impact Payments and these prepaid cards:
Can I have my economic impact payment sent to my prepaid debit card?
Maybe. It depends on your prepaid card and whether your payment has already been scheduled. Many reloadable prepaid cards have account and routing numbers that you could provide to the IRS through the Get My Payment application or Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here tool. You would need to check with the financial institution to ensure your card can be re-used and to obtain the routing number and account number, which may be different from the card number. If you obtained your prepaid debit card through the filing of a federal tax return, you must contact the financial institution that issued your prepaid debit card to get the correct routing number and account number. Do not use the routing number and account number shown on your copy of the tax return filed. When providing this information to the IRS, you should indicate that the account and routing number provided are for a checking account unless your financial institution indicates otherwise.
Will IRS be sending prepaid debit cards?
Some payments may be sent on a prepaid debit card known as The Economic Impact Payment Card The Economic Impact Payment Card is sponsored by the Treasury Department’s Bureau of the Fiscal Service, managed by Money Network Financial, LLC and issued by Treasury’s financial agent, MetaBank®, N.A.
If you receive an Economic Impact Payment Card, it will arrive in a plain envelope from “Money Network Cardholder Services.” The Visa name will appear on the front of the Card; the back of the Card has the name of the issuing bank, MetaBank®, N.A. Information included with the Card will explain that the card is your Economic Impact Payment Card. Please go to EIPcard.com for more information.
Can I specifically ask the IRS to send the Economic Impact Payment to me as a debit card?
Not at this time. For those who don’t receive their Economic Impact Payment by direct deposit, they will receive their payment by paper check, and, in a few cases, by debit card. The determination of which taxpayers receive a debit card will be made by the Bureau of the Fiscal Service (BFS), another part of the Treasury Department that works with the IRS to handle distribution of the payments. BFS is sending nearly 4 million debit cards to taxpayers starting in mid-May. At this time, taxpayers cannot make a selection to receive a debit card. Please go to EIPcard.com for more information.
Watch out for scams related to Economic Impact Payments The IRS urges taxpayers to be on the lookout for scams related to the Economic Impact Payments. To use the new app or get information, taxpayers should visit IRS.gov. People should watch out for scams using email, phone calls or texts related to the payments. Be careful and cautious: The IRS will not send unsolicited electronic communications asking people to open attachments, visit a website or share personal or financial information. Remember, go directly and solely to IRS.gov for official information.