PROVO, Utah-A pilot program by the federal government to issue tax refunds via a loaded Visa debit card rather than a direct deposit or by paper check has some credit unions wondering about the value of continuing to participate as VITA sites.

The federal government's aim is to reduce costs and go paperless. More than half-a-million individuals-primarily the unbanked and underbanked-are set to begin receiving letters from the Treasury Department that they may elect to participate in a pilot program and receive their tax refunds on a direct deposit pre-paid Visa debit card rather than as a paper check. The MyAccountCard will be issued by Bonneville Bank, based in Provo, Utah. Participants will, at random, receive one of four cards with different product features and fee structures, including two with a linked savings account. Government officials are attempting to determine which card is best as they navigate a potential national roll-out of the program.

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