How to Change the Way I Receive My Refund

by Angela M. Wheeland

After you complete your tax return, some circumstances, such as changing your bank account or moving, might require you to alter how you receive your federal tax refund. Although the Internal Revenue Service typically doesn't allow you to make changes once they accept your return, you can alter the method before submitting the forms to the IRS. To change from a paper check to direct deposit, or vice-versa, you have to amend the information on your tax return.

Change to Direct Deposit on Paper Return

Go to the "Refund" section on your income tax return. This section is located toward the bottom of your tax return, on Form 1040, Form 1040A or Form 1040EZ.

Enter your bank's routing number in the "Routing Number" field.

Check the box that indicates whether your account is a checking or savings account.

Enter your bank account number in the "Account Number" field.

Change to Direct Deposit with Tax Software

Open the tax preparation software you use to file your income taxes, and open your current tax return.

Proceed through the program until you come to the screen that asks how you want to receive your federal tax refund. You should find this option toward the end of the questionnaire, but before you choose how to submit your return.

Change the option to receive your refund by direct deposit instead of a paper refund. Some programs might refer to direct deposit as "To My Bank Account."

Enter your bank account and routing number in the fields provided. You can enter up to three bank accounts and designate the amount you want refunded in each account.

Change to Paper Check

Go to the "Refund" section of your tax return if you're filing a paper return. If you're filing your return electronically, open your tax preparation software and proceed to the screen that asks how you want to receive your refund.

Cross out your bank account and routing numbers on your return if you're filing a paper return. Alternatively, you can "white-out" the information or print and prepare a new return.

Delete your bank account and routing number from the tax preparation software screen if you're filing your return electronically. Uncheck the box that selects direct deposit, and check the appropriate box to indicate that you would rather receive a paper refund.

Tips

  • If you realize that you provided the wrong address for a paper refund or bank information for direct deposit after submitting your return to the IRS, contact the IRS immediately at (800) 829-1040.
  • If you provided the wrong bank account or routing number and opted for direct deposit, the IRS will still attempt to deposit your refund. If the deposit is unsuccessful, the IRS will mail you a paper check to your last known address.
  • If the address you provided is incorrect and opted for a paper check, the post office will return your check to the IRS. To receive your refund at the correct address, complete and send Form 8822 to the IRS.
  • If you moved while your return was being processed, you can notify the U.S. Post Office of the change. The post office might forward your check to the new address.
  • If you're filing a paper return and would like to split your refund into different accounts, use Form 8888 to designate the amounts and provide the routing and account numbers.
  • You can also purchase U.S. Savings bonds with your tax return using Form 8888.

Warning

  • The IRS does not allow you to change the method you receive your refund after you mail your return or the IRS accepts your electronic return. The IRS urges taxpayers to double-check the information on their return before submitting.

About the Author

Angela M. Wheeland specializes in topics related to taxation, technology, gaming and criminal law. She has contributed to several websites and serves as the lead content editor for a construction-related website. Wheeland holds an Associate of Arts in accounting and criminal justice. She has owned and operated her own income tax-preparation business since 2006.

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