The use of prepaid debit cards as an effective alternative to paper checks for receiving federal tax refunds is gaining traction as evidenced by the US Treasury’s recent announcement of a pilot prepaid tax card program. As part of this pilot program, the US Treasury is sending letters promoting the prepaid debit card to approximately 600,000 low and moderate income taxpayers in the United States. The letters encourage the recipients to register for the prepaid cards and have their tax refunds direct deposited.
Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Neal Wolin stated:
“This pilot program will provide low and moderate income Americans with a low cost option for faster delivery of their federal tax refund.”
Prepaid debit cards provide many advantages to taxpayers who are owed a refund but don’t have a bank account which is needed to receive direct deposit. One of the major benefits is that the IRS distributes direct deposit payments prior to mailing checks. The published IRS Tax Refund Schedule shows that direct deposit payments are disbursed a week before paper checks are mailed.
To gain more insight into this new market, GetDebit recently spoke with Stas Filippov, CEO of Atlanta based Radnology, LLC. The company markets the Green1040 prepaid debit card program which is specifically targeted at US taxpayers needing a way to receive refunds by direct deposit.
GetDebit: How long has Green1040 been in operation?
Stas Filippov (Green1040): This is our second tax season. Last year we rolled out our offering to tax preparers and this year we also extended it to consumers.
GetDebit: Why did you choose to develop and market a prepaid card program to taxpayers who are expecting a tax refund?
Stas Filippov (Green1040): I have been directly involved in the prepaid industry for over 10 years and have found that in order to make a prepaid program relevant to consumers you have to provide them a distinct reason for getting a prepaid card. Similar to my past experience in the prepaid card-based remittance programs where cardholders needed a card to easily receive money transfers as well as payroll card programs where cardholders used prepaid cards to safely receive wages, the ability to receive tax refunds by direct deposit is a clear reason for consumers to get a prepaid card like Green1040.
GetDebit: Do you see the US Treasury Department’s recent tax card program as a negative or a positive for your business?
Stas Filippov (Green1040): Anything that increases awareness of the benefits of prepaid cards is a positive for the prepaid industry as well as Green1040. The fact that the US Treasury is piloting a prepaid card program will make consumers more comfortable with prepaid cards which will only increase demand and expand our business.
GetDebit: How do people get a Green1040 card?
Stas Filippov (Green1040): A pretty unique feature of our program is that we provide tax preparers with an easy-to-use system to distribute cards to their clients. Consumers can also register themselves for a card directly on our website.
GetDebit: You mentioned that you started by issuing cards through tax preparers. Why do tax preparers choose to use your system?
Stas Filippov (Green1040): Tax preparers have to focus on processing tax returns so our task is to let them obtain card direct deposit information as easily as possible. We put tax preparers in control. In addition to helping them provide their clients with a great way to receive tax refunds, we also help tax preparers collect tax preparation fees out of the refund. Through the use of the Green1040 program, tax preparers are able to expand their offering to their clients and provide a service typically associated with the large, national tax preparation chains. It’s a win-win situation for both the tax preparer and the taxpayer.
GetDebit: How are the recent regulatory changes affecting your business?
Stas Filippov (Green1040): The Department of the Treasury has recently issued an interim final rule which makes it acceptable for federal payments to be direct deposited to prepaid debit cards. This rule makes prepaid debit cards such as Green1040 even more useful. Overall, recent announcements signal government support for mainstream adoption of prepaid debit cards.
GetDebit: Do you have any other insights you would like to share?
Stas Filippov (Green1040): The prepaid industry is still relatively new and just entering the mainstream. Five years ago a card targeted at the tax industry would have been a stretch of the imagination. Now, tax cards are just one more legitimate reason for consumers to use prepaid, but definitely not the last.
Key features of the Green1040 tax refund card program are:
- No credit check required
- Free direct deposit loads
- Free SMS and email account alerts
- Cash loading at Western Union locations
- $4.95 monthly fee