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Direct deposit will bring you a stimulus check faster. Here’s how to prepare for another payment

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Get ready in case there’s another round of stimulus payments.


Sarah Tew/CNET

With President Donald Trump wrapping up his time in office and President-elect Joe Biden preparing for his term starting next year, a lot is in flux in Washington, including movement on a second round of stimulus checks as part of another economic rescue bill.

The first economic impact payments started going out last April as part of the CARES Act, with the IRS singling out those who had already set up direct deposit with the agency for the first wave of payments. The agency then doubled back for those who were eligible for a payment but were not in the first wave to help them provide their banking information so they could receive their payments faster than through the mail.

While a next round of payments is still just talk, you can get ready for a second stimulus check if Congress approves one and ensure that you get your payment as quickly as possible by providing the IRS with your direct deposit information. Here’s what to do if you haven’t already set up direct deposit with the IRS.


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How did the IRS get my banking information for the first check?

For the first round of payments, the IRS used direct deposit information from one of a few places:

  • Your most recently filed tax return if you received a refund by direct deposit in 2018 or 2019.
  • The bank information you provided through the Get My Payment online tool.
  • The bank information you provided through the Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here tool.

Will the IRS use the same information for a second round of checks?

For a second check, the IRS could again use banking information provided through a federal tax return. An IRS spokesperson told CNET that banking information captured through the Get My Payment and Non-Filers tools was specific to the first check, so reusing information entered through those IRS tools would depend on what guidelines Congress sets out in another economic rescue bill for direct deposit payments.

Read more: Sorry, not everyone will get a second stimulus payment. What we know so far

What will the IRS need to set up direct deposit?

When it’s time to provide the IRS with your banking information, you’ll want to have on hand your bank account type and routing and account numbers. You have several ways to find this banking information.

Banking website: Your bank’s website may show your routing and account numbers. Log in to the account you want to use, and look around for the numbers you need.

Banking app: If your bank has an app, it may show you your account and routing numbers. In the app, tap the account you want to use to see the account and routing numbers.

Printed check: At the bottom of your check you most likely will see three sets of numbers: The first set of nine numbers is your routing number. The second set of 8 to 12 numbers is your account number. The third set is the one you don’t need for direct deposit, as it’s the number of the individual check.

Check this IRS page for more help with locating your routing and account numbers.

Can you change or correct your banking information with the IRS?

While you could use the Get My Payment and Non-Filers tools to provide the IRS with your banking information, the IRS has said it does not allow people to change the direct deposit information for a stimulus payment it has on file. This is a safeguard against fraud. 

The IRS said if your banking information has changed or is incorrect or the bank account is closed, the bank will reject the deposit and the federal bureau will then mail the payment to the address it has on file. For help, you can call the IRS assistance phone number at (800) 829-1040. For specific questions on stimulus payments, call the IRS help line at (800) 919-9835.

If you’ve moved, you can provide the IRS with your new mailing address.

Will the IRS have a deadline to provide banking information?

For the first check, the IRS set a May 13 deadline to provide the agency with your banking information — this was about a month after the first direct deposits were made. If you missed the deadline, you got your check in the payment either in the mail or as a prepaid debit card. Expect a similar cutoff if Congress approves a second payment.

For more on stimulus checks, here’s where negotiations are for the next stimulus package, 10 facts and myths to know about the next payment and four possible dates for when the IRS could send the next check and who could get it first.

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