Direct deposit will get your stimulus check sent faster, but there’s a catch – CNET

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Stimulus check money is on the way now that it’s been signed into law.


Angela Lang/CNET

Just days after President Donald Trump signed into law the bill that includes a second stimulus check of up to $600 per person, the IRS has started sending the first payments straight to bank accounts through direct deposit and begun the process of mailing paper checks. If you have direct deposit set up with the IRS, you’ll get your second stimulus check quicker than if you don’t. The IRS currently doesn’t have a way for you to provide your banking information if the federal government doesn’t already have it. (Here’s how to calculate your personal total and who might not qualify for another payment.)

Those who don’t have direct deposit will receive their payment via a paper check or EIP card through the mail, and depending on how quickly the IRS can process all the payments, your stimulus money may arrive weeks or months from now. 

Keep reading for all we currently know about receiving your check straight to your bank via direct deposit. We recently updated this story.

If you don’t do direct deposit, you could be in for a big wait

Since the first check, the benefits of giving your banking information to the IRS for a direct deposit have been clear. Roughly 80 million people received their stimulus payment within the first week, out of an estimated 170 million who received a first stimulus payment. So, there’s a clear advantage to having direct deposit set up with the IRS.

But while there may be a benefit if you did sign up, there is also an enormous disadvantage if you don’t. The language of the bill specifies a Jan. 15 cutoff for the IRS to send stimulus checks.

So what happens after then? Anyone who doesn’t get a second stimulus check sorted by that date would have to take the extra step of claiming it as a Recovery Rebate Credit as part of the 2020 tax season, presumably with exceptions for people not typically required to file taxes


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That means the timing for getting paid would vary wildly depending on when you’re able to complete your taxes and how quickly the IRS would process your tax return. For example, people who file in February could receive their second stimulus money months before people who file in April. It isn’t clear if applying for a tax extension would further delay matters.

The disadvantage to people who don’t have direct deposit set up or quickly does so, is clear.

What happens if I don’t have a bank account?

According to the Urban Institute, people with bank accounts and direct deposit (who are disproportionately white) were more likely to get their first stimulus check by the end of May than people who identify as Black, Hispanic or were below the poverty line. This was directly tied to groups who were more likely to have banking accounts and who filed that information with the IRS to facilitate direct deposit tax returns.

Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and several other large banks now offer more affordable checkless bank accounts as part of a program to make it easier for people to get bank accounts. 

Read moreSorry, not everyone will get a second stimulus payment

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You may need to set up direct deposit with the IRS if you don’t have it already in place.


Sarah Tew/CNET

How the IRS gets your banking information for stimulus payments

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.

The IRS said it is updating its Get My Payment portal so you can check the status of your first and second payments, but the service said nothing about using the tool with the second check to provide banking information. We’ve asked the IRS for clarification. The IRS said the tool should be available within a few days with updated information.

What bank account info does the IRS need to set up a direct deposit?

While the IRS has not said whether it will allow you to provide banking information for the second check through the Get My Payment tool, if it does, 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. We’ve asked the IRS for clarification.

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 I correct or change my banking details with the IRS?

With the first checks, you could use the Get My Payment and Non-Filers tools to provide the IRS with your banking information. The IRS has said, however, 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 could attempt to call the IRS assistance phone number at 800-829-1040. For specific questions on stimulus payments, call here’s the number for the IRS help line: 800-919-9835.

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

Is there a deadline to give my banking information to the IRS?

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 payment in the mail either as a paper check or as a prepaid debit card. The IRS has not said whether you will be able to provide banking information for the second check, or if there is a deadline.

For more on the checks, here’s how quickly the IRS could send your payment, how to calculate how much money you might get in a second stimulus check and everything you should know about stimulus qualifications now.

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