Federal Fiscal Response to COVID-19: Economic Impact Payment debit cards

By Sierra Hatfield, CSG policy analyst


  • Not everyone has received their stimulus relief, therefore the federal government is trying an innovative option — loaded debit cards.
  • The debit cards are expected to reach four million Americans via mail and will provide immediate access to funds once activated.

Addressing the Problem

  • Not everyone has received their stimulus check. For example:
    • Those who had incorrect or no banking information with the IRS are still waiting for mail-in checks
  • There is a possibility of a second wave of coronavirus stimulus checks which gives the federal government a renewed opportunity to smooth out the distribution process

How are States Impacted?

Citizens continue to struggle with financial instability. The headache — and adverse effects on state economies — will likely continue until they can reclaim their financial security of which the stimulus payments play a part.

Action by the Federal Government

  • The IRS stopped accepting direct deposit information on its website on May 13, instead focusing on other ways for people to receive their stimulus money
  • A new method — a debit card, known as the Economic Impact Payments card — will be “distributed to qualified individuals without bank information on file with the IRS, and whose tax return was processed by either the Andover or Austin IRS Service Center.”
    • According to Forbes, these two service centers service people in Florida, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Texas, Vermont, foreign countries, U.S. territories and military addresses.

Expected Outcome

Qualified residents — an estimated 4 million Americans — will likely receive EIP cards which can be activated for immediate access to their stimulus relief. While there is evidence that stimulus money was initially used to cover essential purchases, as time goes on and the later payments trickle out, there is also evidence that suggests some Americans used the money for non-essential purchases while others continue to struggle with mandatory bills such as mortage payments. The needs of Americans of mixed, therefore the benefits of an EIP card will be mixed as well.

Resources for State Leaders:

Money Network Economic Impact Card