Sen. Minority Leader John McKinney, R-Fairfield, and Tom Swan, head of the Connecticut Citizen Action Group, rarely agree on policy matters.
But Swan this evening backed up McKinney’s call for legislative Democrats to convene an informational hearing on the Department of Revenue Services’ announcement Monday the agency has replaced tax refund checks with JPMorgan Chase debit cards.
“Why are banks able to profit off people’s refunds?” Swan - no fan of big banking institutions -said.
According to state Treasurer Denise Nappier, the contract with the partnership of Chase and Bridgeport-based People’s United Bank is worth $25,000. There are, however, no fees for using the cards at Chase and People’s ATMs. Fees of $1.50 will be applied at other ATMS after three uses.
Sullivan and Nappier maintain the debit cards are more secure than checks, more convenient and will also cut the state’s administrative costs by an estimated $290,000.
Swan continued, ”This is the type of thing that should be discussed and shared in a public way … Kevin Sullivan should not just be able to go off and do this without any public process.”
McKinney noted DRS didn’t initially explain the bidding procedure Monday and left it to Nappier’s office Tuesday to reveal nine banks showed interest and the contract was worth $25,000.
“It would have been nice if this was released as part of the total rollout Monday,” McKinney said.
Although DRS claims the changeover from paper to plastic tax refunds (direct bank desposits are also still an option) has been in the works for over a year, one person closely involved in tax preparation services knew nothing about it until Monday’s announcement.
“We just heard about it ourselves and we’re putting the word out,” Dan Arnold, state coordinator for the AARP’s tax aid program, told me tonight. “This is the first time we’ve seen this. We just don’t know what the reaction is going to be.”