H. Prepaid Cards

To be able to use the rate of IRS’s typical eight- to fifteen-day reimbursement, taxpayers will need to have a banking account into that the reimbursement may be direct deposited. Taxpayers with no bank-account should always be encouraged to open up a merchant account to get their reimbursement, but there are various other choices too. Taxpayers with no bank-account may have their reimbursement deposited to a card that is prepaid including any existing payroll or reloadable prepaid card that the taxpayer already has.

Last year, the U. S. Department of Treasury carried out a pilot task offering 600,000 low-cost prepaid cards to families whom might not have had a banking account to get their income tax refunds. 52 Customer advocates supported the Treasury pilot, together with hoped it might be expanded nationwide in 2012. But, just 2,000 taxpayers subscribed to the card, dashing hopes because of its return. 53 The low signup rate might have been as a result of not enough advertising, plus the proven fact that it absolutely was available in mid-January, when income tax period had been well underway. Taxpayers needed to subscribe to the card, hold back until Treasury mailed the card for them, then make use of the card’s account number for direct deposit– a lot more cumbersome procedure than in the event that taxpayers could actually check always a box off on the income tax kinds to get a card.

Certainly, some states have begun issuing state income income tax refunds on prepaid cards to taxpayers that do perhaps perhaps not utilize direct deposit. These states consist of Connecticut, 54 ny, 55 and Oklahoma. 56 Brand New York’s prepaid credit card seems to be optional, while Connecticut and Oklahoma may actually mandate issuance of the prepaid credit card (with a few exceptions) in the event that taxpayer will not pick direct deposit.

There are wide range of prepaid credit card choices made available from private businesses particularly targeted for distribution of income tax refunds, several of that are talked about in Sections II. F and II. G, below. Many of these cards allow taxpayers to have the costs of taxation planning deducted from their refunds. You will find comparable debit that is prepaid accessible to taxpayers whom utilize free VITA internet web sites.

Laws given by Treasury’s Financial Management provider govern the deposit of federal re payments, including taxation refunds, to prepaid cards. 57 These laws need that the deposit be at the mercy of FDIC insurance coverage, need conformity because of the Regulation E defenses for payroll cards, and prohibit deposit up to a card which has had an connected credit line or loan function which is why re re payment is automatically triggered once the payment that is federal delivered. 58

Whenever optional, taxpayers should really be cautious if considering prepaid cards. As with every economic item, taxpayers should compare costs and customer defenses when selecting among choices. Some types of prepaid cards have reduced charges and better defenses than the others.

Add-on charges are charges individually charged by taxation preparers. These are typically as well as the RAL or RAC costs charged by the banking institutions. Add-on costs for RALs and RACs look like a source that is large of for a few preparers.

All three of this major taxation planning chains—H&R Block, Jackson Hewitt, and Liberty Tax—had promised to prevent asking add-on charges in the past. 59 But, Jackson Hewitt began recharging add-on costs once again this year, especially a “Data and Document Storage Fee” as much as $40.60 afterwards, Jackson Hewitt’s agreement with Republic Bank & Trust allows Hewitt to charge yet another $30 as being a fee that is“transmitter’s. ”61 Liberty may also be charging you a $20 add-on charge. 62

In addition, taxation preparers maybe maybe maybe not connected to one of several three big tax that is commercial chains will frequently charge add-on costs. You will find numerous kinds of add-on fees. A few of the true names for add-on charges we have seen include:

  • Application charges;
  • Data and document storage costs;
  • Document processing costs;
  • E-filing costs;
  • Provider bureau charges;
  • Transmission/software charges;
  • Technology costs.


Some preparers will charge a few add-on costs. The cumulative effect of add-on charges can be quite costly. Mystery shopper evaluating by consumer groups discovered fee that is add-on which range from $25 to $324 in 2008;63 $19 to $85 in 2010;64 and $35 in 2011.65 Comparable secret shopper evaluating by First Nations Development Institute discovered significant add-on charges. 66 A unique Jersey court decision documents what sort of regional string, Malqui Tax, charged a document planning cost of $134, plus something charge of $15, to RAL and RAC customers. 67

Quite often, add-on charges aren’t really based on the income tax preparer, but by the computer pc pc software or transmitter business that the preparer makes use of. 68 The provider of the financial product builds in the capability to charge add-on fees, as well as capping them in other cases. For instance, EPS e-Collect (talked about in part I. G above) allows preparers to subtract a transmitter charge; a provider Bureau cost (capped at $35); or over to $999.99 when preparing charges (although EPS will “monitor” costs over $400). 69