IRS, Treasury to send 8 million Visa prepaid cards to speed delivery of stimulus funds

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The Treasury Department and IRS are sending out approximately 8 million Visa prepaid cards to deliver a second round of Economic Impact Payments (EIPs) to consumers.

The EIP card is issued by Treasury’s financial agent, MetaBank. The IRS noted that consumers who received a paper check in the first round of stimulus payment in early 2020 may receive a prepaid debit card instead. However, the IRS also noted that it does not determine who receives a prepaid card. Additionally, the IRS reported that residents of the western part of the U.S. are generally more likely to receive an EIP card.

This move follows the government's earlier decision to move more quickly with sending out prepaid cards and checks to consumers who did not receive a direct deposit. In the first round of stimulus payments, the IRS reported that 75% of payments were made by direct deposit and only 3% by prepaid cards.

Consumers who receive EIP cards can use them to make purchases online and in stores where Visa cards are accepted. They can also get cash from domestic in-network ATMs, transfer funds and obtain replacement EIP cards without incurring fees.

The move to quickly issue prepaid cards comes on the heels of the challenges faced by the Treasury Department and IRS to deliver the first round of EIP stimulus payments to consumers, a process that dragged on for months in 2020, according to CNBC.

The second round of EIP funds is generally $600 for single individuals earning less than $75,000, and $1,200 for married couples filing a joint return and earning less than a combined $150,000, according to the IRS. There is an additional $600 per qualifying child under the age of 17 paid as part of the stimulus package.

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