Alternative to Refund Checks
4:00 am
Tue May 28, 2013

Va Tax Dept Debit Cards

Those debit cards that the Virginia Department of Taxation issued to taxpayers instead of checks are not going anywhere. In fact, as the tax season wraps up, most residents have already seen them.

Getting rid of tax-refund checks was supposed to save the state money.  Taxpayers had the option of cashing out the card, transferring funds, or using it as a point-of-sale card or at an ATM.  But they were charged fees and were often confused about how to access funds. Burns said he didn't receive many complaints, though.  

Senator Janet Howell says she thinks she knows why.  "I think the reason you're not getting the calls you expected is that we're getting them. And I have a lot of very angry constituents. They feel that the 200-thousands dollars in savings is being on their backs---that they're spending inordinate amount of time trying to get what is their money."

Tax Commissioner Craig Burns says they will do a better job in explaining how to activate the cards and communicating with banks about program requirements. "It should get better from here on out. I mean it's a large program. It's a big change although it doesn't seem that."

Burns was asked if they can stop the program and just provide refunds through direct deposit. He says the three-year contract could be terminated without extra cost.  But some Senators believe this is a good idea and where most states are headed, and it's just a matter of working out the quirks.