No, one of the conditions of your installment agreement is that the IRS will automatically apply any refund (or overpayment) due to you against taxes you owe. Because your refund isn't applied toward your regular monthly payment, continue making your installment agreement payments as scheduled.
If your refund exceeds your total balance due on all outstanding tax liabilities including accruals, you'll receive a refund of the excess unless you owe certain other past-due amounts, such as state income tax, child support, a student loan, or other federal nontax obligations which are offset against any refund. For more information on these non-IRS refund offsets, you can call the Bureau of the Fiscal Service (BFS) at 800-304-3107 (toll-free).
If you lost your refund check, you should initiate a refund trace:
Call us at 800-829-1954 (toll-free) and either use the automated system or speak with an agent.
- However, if you filed a married filing jointly return, you can’t initiate a trace using the automated systems. Download and complete the Form 3911, Taxpayer Statement Regarding Refund (PDF) or the IRS can send you a Form 3911 to get the replacement process started.
Your claim for a missing refund is processed one of two ways:
- If the check wasn't cashed, you'll receive a replacement check once the original check is canceled.
- If the refund check was cashed, the Bureau of the Fiscal Service (BFS) will provide you with a claim package that includes a copy of the cashed check. Follow the instructions for completing the claim package. BFS will review your claim and the signature on the canceled check before determining whether they can issue you a replacement check. The BFS review can take up to six weeks to complete.
Yes, if you need to know whether your federal tax refund check was cashed, you can initiate a refund trace by using one of the following methods:
- Call us at 800-829-1954 (toll-free) and either use the automated system or speak with a representative.
- If you filed a married filing jointly return, you can't initiate a trace using the automated systems. The IRS will send you a Form 3911, Taxpayer Statement Regarding Refund (PDF) to get the process started or you can download the form.
If you're trying to obtain a photocopy of your refund check because of a dispute over the proceeds, call us at 800-829-1954 and speak to a representative to request assistance.
By law, the IRS can't disclose any information to you about someone else’s refund. For example, the IRS can't discuss a check issued to another taxpayer with you. If you submit a Form 8821, Tax Information Authorization for a person, we may provide information to that person.
If you lost your refund check, see I lost my refund check. How do I get a new one?
A split refund lets you divide your refund, in any proportion you want, and direct deposit the funds into up to three different accounts with U.S. financial institutions. Use Part I of Form 8888, Allocation of Refund (Including Savings Bond Purchases) to request to have your refund split. The accounts must be in your name. You may also use part or all of your refund to buy up to $5,000 in paper or electronic U.S. Series I Savings Bonds for yourself or someone else by using Part II of Form 8888.
You can ask the IRS to direct deposit a refund from a jointly-filed return into your account, your spouse's account, or a joint account. However, because state and financial institution rules can vary, you should first verify that your financial institution accepts a joint refund deposit into an individual account.
Yes, but the refund must be deposited by the due date for filing your tax return (not counting extensions). In addition, IRS direct deposits of federal tax refunds won't indicate which year the IRA contribution is for. If you want all your refund deposited into your IRA, you don't use Form 8888, Allocation of Refund (Including Savings Bond Purchases); you do it on your tax return.
- Ensure that your financial institution accepts deposits for the prior year to IRAs.
- As with all IRA deposits, the account owner is responsible for informing the IRA trustee of the year for which the deposit is intended, for ensuring that contributions don't exceed annual contribution limitations and that contributions are timely made.
If you fail to notify the IRA trustee of the intended year for the deposit, the IRA trustee can assume the deposit is for the current year (for example, a refund received in 2020 is deposited as a contribution for 2020 and not for 2019).
The IRS isn't responsible for the timeliness or contribution amounts related to an IRA direct deposit.
- An error on your return or an offset of your refund could change the amount of refund available for deposit (for more information, see Are there conditions that could change the amount of my direct deposits?).
- You must verify the deposit amount and that the deposit was actually made to the account on time — by the due date of the return (without regard to extensions).
- If the deposit into your account doesn't occur by the due date of the return (without regard to extensions), the deposit is a contribution for 2020 rather than 2019, and you must file an amended 2019 return to reduce any IRA deduction and any retirement savings contributions credit you claimed for 2019 for that deposit.
Yes, there are several factors that could change the amount of your tax refund - resulting in either a larger or smaller refund than expected.
Examples that could increase your refund are math errors and other mistakes on your return.
Examples that could decrease your refund include:
- Math errors or mistakes;
- Delinquent federal taxes;
- State income taxes, child support, student loans or other delinquent federal nontax obligations; and
- When the IRS withholds a portion of your refund while further review of an item claimed on your return takes place.
The IRS assumes no responsibility for tax preparer or taxpayer error. Please verify your account and routing numbers with your financial institution and double check the accuracy of the numbers you enter on your return prior to signing and submitting it. You should not request a deposit of your refund into an account that's not in your own name.
The IRS handles account or routing number errors the same for both split refunds and regular direct deposits.
- You omit a digit in the account or routing number of an account and the number doesn't pass the IRS's validation check. In this case, the IRS will send you a paper check for the entire refund instead of a direct deposit.
- You incorrectly enter an account or routing number and the number passes the validation check but your designated financial institution rejects and returns the deposit to the IRS. The IRS will issue a paper check for the amount of that deposit once it is received.
- You incorrectly enter an account or routing number that belongs to someone else and your designated financial institution accepts the deposit. You must work directly with the respective financial institution to recover your funds. See the last solution bullet below.
- You requested a Refund Anticipation Loan (RAL) or Refund Anticipation Check (RAC) through your preparer or preparation software. Usually this occurs when you authorize the fee for preparation to be taken from your refund. Even if you didn't request a direct deposit, these types of refunds are directly deposited into the preparer’s financial institution, so you should contact that institution for resolution. See the last solution bullet below.
- If the return hasn't already posted to our system, you can ask us to stop the direct deposit. You may call us toll-free at 800-829-1040, M - F, 7 a.m. - 7 p.m.
- Generally, if the financial institution recovers the funds and returns them to the IRS, the IRS will send a paper refund check to your last known address on file with the IRS.
- If you have contacted the financial institution and two weeks have passed with no results, you will need to file Form 3911, Taxpayer Statement Regarding Refund (PDF) to initiate a trace. This allows the IRS to contact the bank on your behalf to attempt recovery of your refund. Banks are allowed up to 90 days from the date of the initial trace input to respond to our request for information.
- If funds aren't available or the bank refuses to return the funds, the IRS cannot compel the bank to do so. The case may then become a civil matter between you and the financial institution and/or the owner of the account into which the funds were deposited.
- First, check with your financial institution to ensure they will accept a direct deposit for the type of account you're designating. Some financial institutions will accept direct deposits for some types of accounts, but not others.
- Second, make sure you use the correct routing and account numbers for the account - ask your financial institution if you're unsure - and double check the accuracy of the numbers you enter on your tax return. An incorrect or transposed number could result in your financial institution rejecting the deposit or, worse, depositing your refund into someone else's account.
- Third, double check your return to ensure you haven't made math or other errors that could increase or decrease the actual amount of your refund. The IRS recommends electronic filing for the most error-free return.
Note: Your refund may only be deposited directly into accounts that are in your own name, your spouse's name, or both if it's a joint account. Also, no more than three electronic refunds can be directly deposited into a single financial account or prepaid debit card. Taxpayers who exceed the limit will receive an IRS notice and a paper refund.
Contact an IRS customer service representative to correct any agency errors by calling 800-829-1040. Customer service representatives are available Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. local time, unless otherwise noted (see telephone assistance for more information). Unfortunately, this may result in you receiving a paper check.
If you need assistance in obtaining child support payments that are overdue, you may contact your state child-support enforcement agency or the Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE). OCSE is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children and Families and it assists state governments in operating and managing their child-support programs.