Every week, I’m bombarded by press releases from companies and publications wanting me to share their products and stories. I’d love to be able to pass this info on to you — at least the stuff that’s both relevant and good (actual subject line from one irrelevant press release this morning: “Rev. Jesse Jackson holds Automotive Summit in Detroit Sept. 30 – Oct. 1″ … spam!) — but doing so would be a full-time job. (No joke!) But every now and then, somebody sends me a press release that piques my interest.
Recently, somebody from the U.S. Treasury sent me a press release about a new program the federal government intends to implement this tax season. Here’s a run-down:
The U.S. Department of the Treasury announced that it will launch a new pilot program to help capitalize on tax refund season as an opportunity to provide unbanked and underbanked Americans with access to safe, low-cost financial accounts. This pilot will deliver targeted offers to certain low and moderate income individuals to sign up for new accounts with debit card access at tax time in order to receive their refunds through direct deposit. It will also test offering accounts that can be used year-round in the future to deposit other sources of income, store money safely, make purchases, pay bills, withdraw cash, and build savings.
The use of safe and appropriate financial services and products can help households maintain financial stability. Unbanked and underbanked individuals often face difficulties saving and planning for their financial futures, making them more vulnerable to medical or employment emergencies and threatening their ability to invest in continuing education, purchase a home, or send their children to college. The unbanked are disproportionally low and moderate income. According to the FDIC’s 2009 National Survey, a person making $30,000 or less is more than 7 times as likely to be unbanked as someone making $50,000 or more.
As of yet, this program has no name and no website. All it has is a press release. That’s okay, though, because I like the idea, and I look forward to hearing more about it in the future. Meanwhile, I wanted to share it with you folks so that you could start planning if it’s something that makes sense for you and your situation.
Details on this are vague right now, and the program may not prove to be worthwhile. But I’m hopeful. It sounds like it could be a win for everyone involved.