JPMorgan Chase has announced the rollout of pre-paid debit cards to speed payment of tax refunds to low-income tax filers without bank accounts.
The new Chase Direct Benefit Card allows taxpayers to get their refund in a debit card instead of a paper check, eliminating check cashing fees and allowing consumers to use them at stores, ATMs and online. The card is geared especially for people who qualify for refunds under the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).
"The Chase Direct Benefit Card provides an alternative banking service for consumers without bank accounts. Participants in this program will get their refunds faster, eliminate check cashing fees and not have to worry about carrying around cash," said Mark A. Willis, Executive Vice President, JPMorgan Chase Community Development Group (CDG).
The process is simple and free. The JPMorgan Chase CDG has partnered with Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites in 15 cities to promote awareness of EITC refunds and support VITA's free tax preparation services. VITA sites offer taxpayers free tax information and assistance in completing tax returns and most locations also offer free electronic tax filing. VITA sites are generally located at community and neighborhood centers, libraries, schools, shopping malls, and other convenient locations.
The money is available to consumers as soon as the IRS deposits the EITC refunds electronically. The Chase Direct Benefit Card is protected by a Personal Identification Number (PIN), but may also be used for signature-based purchases at Visa® retail locations where a PIN is not required. In addition to avoiding check-cashing fees, there are no late fees, minimum balances required or credit checks and the accounts are fully FDIC insured. Overdrafts are also not a concern, since cardholders can purchase or withdraw only up to the amount on deposit at the time of a transaction.
The Chase Direct Benefit Card provides 24-hour access to cash at more than 900,000 ATMs worldwide, and the ability to make purchases anywhere the Visa® debit logo is displayed. Consumers can obtain account information through a 24/7/toll-free/multilingual customer service unit or online, and also receive monthly statements. For the government, the cards eliminate factors like check production and mailing, and replacing and reconciling voided or destroyed checks. As a bonus, consumers who also receive a federal payment such as Social Security, Supplemental Security Income or a Veterans Administration benefit can enroll for direct deposit of future payments in the same account as their EITC.
"This is another way that JPMorgan Chase, a leader in electronic payments, is helping public sector clients take advantage of new technologies, products and services to reduce costs and provide greater benefits for their clients," said Brian Kibble-Smith, Vice President, Public Affairs, JPMorgan Treasury Services.