GARLAND, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – Millions of Americans have received a stimulus payment in recent days that looks a bit different.
Instead of a paper check, the IRS is now sending out prepaid Visa debit cards to some taxpayers.
“I thought it was just a joke,” said Ernest Wilkerson, who received the prepaid debit card in the mail. “I was ready to throw it away.”
The 73-year-old Garland man said not only was he expecting a paper check from the IRS, but the debit card he received had the wrong name on it.
Instead of Ernest Wilkerson, the name on the card is “ERNEST MOODY.”
“There isn’t any Ernest Moody that I know of,” Wilkerson joked.
“Moody” is his wife’s last name.
The CBS 11 I-Team has learned of multiple cases where the IRS mixed up first and last names of couples who filed their taxes jointly – often using the one spouse’s first name with the other’s different last name.
While the IRS has not said how to resolve the issue, some have reported still being able to transfer the money from the card into a bank account, despite the mixed up name, as long as they have the PIN associated with the card.
Others have contacted the IRS to request a new card.
This is just one of several problems taxpayers have reported with these new debit cards which has some wondering why the IRS, after sending out millions of paper checks, decided now to switch to prepaid debit cards.
Bob Probasco, the director of the tax clinic at Texas A&M University School of Law, said he believes it is because of pressure from Congress.
“They have been getting a lot of pressure from Congress to get the money out quickly and this is quicker than printing checks,” he explained.
Probasco said while most federal benefits have been issued electronically and through prepaid cards for years, this is new for the IRS which he said is likely contributing to some of the hiccups.
This is new for the IRS and, with anything new, comes a few hiccups.
“This is part of an underlining problem that the IRS didn’t try to fix this, for even tax refunds in general, 20 years ago,” Probasco said.
Having already waited months for his money, Wilkerson said he wishes the IRS would have stuck to what it knows.
“I would have preferred a paper check because it would have been already in the bank and spent by now. Instead we still got a piece of plastic.”