On Wednesday, Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed HB 1286 and SB 701 into law at his downtown Richmond office, with VSCPA members and staff and one of the bills’ patrons on hand.
The bills reinstate the paper check option for Virginia individual income tax refunds, which had been removed in the 2012 budget in favor of a prepaid debit card for taxpayers who did not elect to receive their refunds via direct deposit. Many taxpayers reported problems with the use of the debit cards and associated fees.
“The public was very upset,” said Virginia Sen. George Barker (D-Alexandria), who introduced SB 701 and was on hand for the signing. “We had a horrible situation. It was probably one of the stupidest things Virginia has ever done. People who had overpaid their taxes lost thousands of dollars because of confusion, fees and sometimes a simple inability to use a debit card — because we wouldn’t give them a check.”
The VSCPA, working with a coalition of concerned parties, was able to get the bill through the General Assembly, reinstating the check option and eliminating the debit card option starting with taxable year 2015.
“Despite the best intentions when the first bill was initially passed, we heard loud and clear from our membership,” said Nick Harrison, CPA, of Dixon Hughes Goodman in Glen Allen, chair of the VSCPA’s Tax Advisory Committee. “There was a real cost to the taxpayer. We were able to get through a taxpayer-friendly piece of legislation that the Commonwealth really needed to see.”
In the photo: Top row: VSCPA members Ryan Losi, CPA, and Nick Harrison, CPA. Bottom row: VSCPA Vice President of Advocacy Emily Walker, CAE; Virginia Sen. George Barker; Gov. Terry McAuliffe; VSCPA legal counsel Bill Axselle; and VSCPA President & CEO Stephanie Peters, CAE.