IRS – Will Be Sending Stimulus Debit Cards

Everyone that has not yet received their Economic Stimulus Payment and is expecting a paper check needs to be aware that the IRS announced a change yesterday. The U.S. Treasury Department has stated that the IRS will begin sending out four million stimulus payments on prepaid debit cards this week instead of mailing paper checks.

These “Economic Impact Payments” (EIP) cards can be used to make purchases, get cash from in-network ATMs and transfer funds to a personal bank account without incurring fees. The card balance may also be checked online, by mobile app or by phone at no cost.

The EIP cards can be used online, at ATMs or at any retail location where Visa is accepted. The prepaid cards provide consumer protections available to traditional bank account owners such as protections against fraud, loss and other errors. The card will include instructions on use and activation.

“Treasury and the IRS have been working with unprecedented speed to issue Economic Impact Payments to American families. Prepaid debit cards are secure, easy to use, and allow us to deliver Americans their money quickly,” said Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin in a press release. “Recipients can immediately activate and use the cards safely.”

These EIP cards will be available to taxpayers who don’t have bank account information on file with the IRS. The IRS began distributing stimulus payments in April by direct deposit to those who have up-to-date information on file with the IRS. It started sending out payments by paper check in mid-May; however, the agency estimated it could take as long as four to five months to mail out the millions of remaining checks. The IRS now says that sending four million prepaid debit cards will cut down on the time.

Also, be aware that some are viewing the use of the EIP cards as a test for possible future stimulus payments. If any additional stimulus payments are forthcoming, this might be a simpler and faster approach to distribute the money to taxpayers.