People can get their federal tax refund faster with direct deposit

Notice: Historical Content

This is an archival or historical document and may not reflect current law, policies or procedures.

IRS Tax Tip 2021-12, February 3, 2021

As taxpayers prepare for the start of the 2021 filing season, the best way to get a refund is to combine electronic filing with direct deposit. It's fast, secure and easy.

IRS Direct Deposit:

  • Is fast. The quickest way for people to get their refund is to electronically file and use direct deposit. Visit for details about IRS Free File, Free File Fillable Forms and more. Taxpayers who file a paper return can also use direct deposit, but it will take longer to process the return to get a refund.
  • Is secure. Since refunds are electronically deposited, there's no risk of having a paper check stolen or lost. This is the same electronic transfer system that deposits nearly 98 percent of all Social Security and Veterans Affairs benefits into millions of accounts.
  • Is easy. People simply follow the instructions when selecting direct deposit as a refund method and enter their account information as directed. Taxpayers should make sure to enter the correct account and routing number when they file.
  • Provides options. Taxpayers can split a refund into several financial accounts. These include checking, savings, health, education and certain retirement accounts. Taxpayers can even purchase up to $5,000 in Series I U.S. Savings Bonds with their tax refund. Use IRS Form 8888, Allocation of Refund, including Savings Bond Purchases, to deposit a refund in up to three accounts. Do not use this form to designate part of a refund to pay tax preparers.

Taxpayers should deposit refunds into U.S. bank accounts in their own name, their spouse's name or both. Avoid making a deposit into accounts owned by others. Some banks require both spouses' names on the account to deposit a tax refund from a joint return. Taxpayers should check with their bank for direct deposit rules.

People who don't have a bank account can visit the FDIC website for information on where to find a bank that can open an account online and how to choose the right account. Veterans can use the Veterans Benefits Banking Program for access to financial services at participating banks. Tax return preparers may also offer electronic payment options.

Some mobile apps and prepaid debit cards allow for direct deposit of tax refunds. They must have routing and account numbers associated with them that can be entered on a tax return. People should check with the mobile app provider or financial institution to confirm what numbers to use.

People should have their routing and account numbers for direct deposit available when they are ready to file. The IRS can't accept this information after a return is filed.

There is a limit of three direct deposit refunds made into a single financial account or prepaid debit card.

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