Debit cards replace refund checks in Va.

WASHINGTON – The old phrase “the check’s in the mail” no longer applies to taxpayers in Virginia.

The state eliminated paper tax refund checks and taxpayers should expect to either directly deposit the amount into a checking or savings account or to receive a debit card in the mail this tax season.

Last year, the state mailed more than one million refund checks. Eliminating the paper checks is expected to save the state $200,000 a year, says Ginny Slaughter with the Virginia Department of Taxation.

“The primary motivation was cost savings. But yeah, going green is definitely an added benefit,” Slaughter tells WTOP.

But the debit card will also help Virginians who don’t have bank accounts.

“With this card there are a number of ways for folks to get their money for free and not have to pay check cashing fees,” she says.

But the cards do carry inactivity fees. Taxpayers could lose $3 a month for not spending down the balance.

Slaughter says the state includes an information sheet with the debit card explaining how to use the cards for free.

At least a half dozen states now make tax refunds available on debit cards. But D.C. and Maryland both still continue to provide paper refunsd checks.

The tax deadline in Virginia is May 1.

WTOP’s Kristi King contributed to this report. Follow @kingWTOP and @WTOP on Twitter.

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