The IRS is going to invite 600,000 taxpayers to have their 2010 federal tax refund deposited onto a prepaid debit cards managed by Bonneville Bank. The cards will be funded by Treasury and State governments under the direct deposit programs, so refunds will be made faster. Taxpayers can access the cash without charge at VISA network ATMs, and enjoy the typical consumer protections for debit cards.
Treasury says the program is intended to help taxpayers who don't have access to traditional banking, and have to use expensive alternatives to cash tax refund checks (such as check cashing services). Taxpayers will be offered cards that are or are not linked to savings accounts, and with or without a $4.95 monthly fee. Taxpayers will not be able to choose the card. Treasury did not explain why a card with a $4.95 monthly fee is a better alternative for taxpayers.
Treasury also didn't explain what will happen to balances taxpayer's don't access. I've seen a statistic that suggests that up to 40% of debit cards are lost or otherwise not used for the full balance.
But it's not as bad as the prepaid Kardashian debit card, which was pulled from the market in its first week when business writers exposed just how bad that deal was.