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Wednesday May 12, 2021

Washington News

Washington Hotline

Economic Impact Payment Debit Cards Mailed Soon

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act authorizes the IRS to send payments to approximately 160 million taxpayers. The payments are up to $1,200 for individuals and $2,400 for married couples. There is an additional $500 per qualified child. A family of four could receive a very welcome payment of $3,400.

The Economic Impact Payments (EIPs) have been largely distributed. The initial EIPs were sent through direct deposit. The next group of payments was made through distribution of paper checks. The final approximately four million EIPs are being sent in plain envelopes that contain a prepaid debit card. The envelope will come from "Money Network Cardholder Services."

The prepaid debit cards will not have fees. They may be used for purchases anywhere a Visa card is accepted, to get cash from ATMs or to transfer funds to a personal bank account.

It is easy to determine the card balance. You can create an online account or call on the phone. The prepaid card includes consumer protections similar to a traditional bank card. There is protection against fraud, loss and other problems.

The IRS continues to update tools on IRS.gov to assist recipients of EIPs. The "Get My Payment" tool will show when a payment is scheduled. The "Non–Filers Enter Payment Info" tool will allow you to submit information to receive an EIP. These tools are regularly updated and the IRS publishes FAQs to assist with their use.

There are several questions that are commonly asked about EIP amounts.

Can my EIP be Sent to an Existing Prepaid Debit Card?

It may be possible. You would need to provide your existing debit card account and routing numbers to the IRS by using the "Get My Payment" tool or "Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here" tool on the IRS website. Your prepaid debit card would need to be authorized by a financial institution for additional contribution amounts. If your debit card was obtained through a tax refund, you may need to contact your financial institution to obtain the proper routing and account numbers.

When Will the IRS be Sending Prepaid Debit Cards?

Most of the EIPs have been sent through direct deposit and paper checks. The debit cards are expected to be sent within the next week. The plain envelope will come from "Money Network Cardholder Services."

Can I Ask the IRS to Send the EIP to Me on a Debit Card?

Not at this time. The Bureau of Fiscal Service is part of the Treasury Department and is sending the EIPs. The first EIP group was by direct deposit, the second by paper check and the last four million payments by debit cards. The taxpayer may not choose which type of payment to receive.

The IRS cautions taxpayers to be on the lookout for scammers. Do not trust emails, phone calls or texts that allegedly come from the federal government and ask for personal or financial information. Your only communication from the IRS will be a letter approximately two weeks after the payment is received.

Published May 29, 2020

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