Tax Refunds On Debit Cards

Lawmakers are one step from giving final passage to a bill that would prohibit Louisiana's revenue department from requiring certain people to get their tax refunds on debit cards.

This year, taxpayers who didn't get their refunds through direct deposit into a bank account found their paper checks replaced with pre-paid Chase Visa cards.

Revenue department officials said doing away with the checks saves money. But lawmakers said they received complaints from people who don't understand how to use the cards or have been charged fees when they do.

“It cost people more money,” said Sen. Bob Kostelka, R-Monroe.

In response to the change, Rep. Jim Fannin, D-Jonesboro, proposed a measure (House Bill 1092) that would allow people to continue to get a paper check if they don't want the debit card. If the tax return doesn't indicate a choice, the revenue department could decide how to issue the refund.

The provision would be in effect through the 2015 tax year, under the proposal backed by the Senate. It returns to the House for approval of the time limit.

With the debit cards, taxpayers can get their money at Chase ATMs or use the cards to pay for items at retailers. They also can bring the card to a Chase bank and get their refund through a cash advance. They are charged fees if they use non-Chase ATMs to access the money more than once and if they want to transfer the money to a non-Chase bank account.

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