Tax Refund Frequently Asked Questions
Direct Deposit is a safe, reliable, and convenient way to receive Federal payments. The Department of the Treasury's Bureau of the Fiscal Service and the Internal Revenue Service both encourage direct deposit of IRS tax refunds. Direct Deposit combined with IRS e-file provides taxpayers with the fastest and safest way to receive refunds.
This resource page of frequently asked questions about IRS tax refunds provides financial institutions with useful information for reference while assisting customers during the tax filing season.
For other FAQs about Direct Deposit, download the Direct Deposit FAQs.
Looking for Information About Your Tax Refund?
E-file and sign up for Direct Deposit to receive your refund faster, safer, and easier! You can check the status of your refund using IRS’ Where’s My Refund?
Not using e-file? You can still get all the benefits of Direct Deposit by getting your tax refund deposited into your account. Simply provide your banking information to the IRS at the time you are submitting your taxes.
Convenience, reliability and security. No more special trips to your institution to deposit your check — a nice feature if you are busy, ill, away from home, located far from a branch or in a place where parking is hard to find. You no longer need to wait for your check to arrive in the mail. Your money will always be in your account on time. If you move without changing financial institutions, you will not have to wait for your check to catch up with you. You do not have to worry about lost, stolen or misplaced checks.
We issue most refunds in less than 21 calendar days.
Use the IRS2Go mobile app or the Where’s My Refund? tool. You can start checking on the status of your tax return within 24 hours after we have received your e-filed return or 4 weeks after you mail a paper return.
Calling us will not speed up your refund. Our phone and walk-in representatives can only research the status of your refund if it has been 21 days or more since you filed electronically, more than 6 weeks since you mailed your paper return, or Where’s My Refund? directs you to contact us. If we need more information to process your tax return, we will contact you by mail. Otherwise Where’s My Refund? has the most up to date information available about your refund. Use the IRS2Go mobile app or use the Where’s My Refund? tool. Both are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Your refund should only be deposited directly into accounts that are in your own name, your spouse's name or both, if it's a joint account. These are some of the reasons a financial institution may reject a direct deposit, resulting in a paper check. Also, no more than three electronic refunds can be directly deposited into a single financial account or pre-paid debit card. Taxpayers who exceed the limit will receive an IRS notice and a paper refund.
The Treasury Bureau of the Fiscal Service's Kansas City Regional Financial Center will be disbursing all tax refund direct deposits on behalf of the IRS. Information in the ACH Batch Header Record can be used to identify an IRS tax refund, as follows:
- Company Name field will show IRS TREAS 310 (Note: 449 will appear instead of 310 for refunds which have been offset for delinquent debt); and
- Company Entry Description field will show TAX REF.
Yes, an RDFI may post IRS tax refunds received through the Automated Clearing House (ACH) network using the account number only.
Title 31 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 210 (31 CFR Part 210) requires federal payments be sent to a deposit account at a financial institution in the name of the recipient.
However, the RDFI is not obligated to ensure that IRS originates refunds in compliance with this requirement. Some smaller RDFIs may perform a match between the name on the payment and the name on the account; but, 31 CFR 210 makes it clear that an RDFI is not required to perform a match.
No. An RDFI is not liable for an IRS tax refund sent through the ACH network to an erroneous or fraudulent account since the IRS provided incorrect account information.
The incorrect banking information may have been supplied to the IRS by the taxpayer on his/her signed tax return which authorized Direct Deposit. Also, an RDFI is not liable in the event IRS directed a refund to an account based on a fraudulently filed tax return.
If possible, financial institutions should encourage their customers that wish to receive their tax refund by direct deposit to double check their bank account and the institution’s routing number they enter on their return to prevent a misdirected payment.
If the RDFI learns that an IRS tax refund has been misdirected to the wrong account, the RDFI is required under 31 CFR Part 210 to notify the Government of the error.
An RDFI can satisfy this requirement by returning the original ACH credit entry to IRS with an appropriate return reason code. Alternatively, if account information is incorrect but the payment can be posted to the correct account an RDFI may choose to originate a Notification of Change (NOC) with the correct account and/or routing and transit number.
Although an RDFI is not liable for a misdirected IRS tax refund sent to the wrong account because of IRS or taxpayer error, the RDFI is encouraged after it becomes aware of the error to return those funds to the IRS if the funds are still available in the account.
No. IRS may request the RDFI to return any funds available in the account, but the RDFI is not legally required to do so.
In January 2013 NACHA, The Electronic Payments Association, implemented an opt-in program at the request of IRS and Treasury Fiscal Service to allow RDFIs to more easily reject refunds if the name did not match the account number and/or if the financial institution suspected fraud.
Under the opt-in program, once the refund with a mismatch or suspected fraud is identified by the program-participating RDFI, the payment is returned back to Treasury Fiscal Service which routes the payment back to IRS.
RDFIs seeking more information or which are interested in program participation should contact NACHA directly at 703-561-1100 or by email at email@example.com. Reference the "R17 IRS Returns Opt-In Program" in any communication with NACHA.
An RDFI may be contacted by Treasury Fiscal Service through receipt of a 150.1 or 150.2 Form, notifying the RDFI that one of its account holders is claiming they did not receive their refund.
If an RDFI receives a 150.2 Form, it is only responsible for contacting the account holder and taking any necessary measures listed on the 150.2 Form. However if a 150.1 Form is received, an RDFI mus t respond to Treasury Fiscal Service within 3 business days of receipt.
If the payment was misdirected to the wrong account and the funds are still available, the RDFI may be asked by Treasury Fiscal Service to return these funds to the IRS using the R06 (Request per ODFI's Request) Return Reason Code.
Assuming no issues, IRS issues tax refunds in less than 21 calendar days after IRS receives the tax return. IRS has an on-line tool, "Where's My Tax Refund", at www.irs.gov that will provide the status of a tax refund using the taxpayer's SSN, filing status, and refund amount.
If an individual owes money to the federal government because of a delinquent debt, Treasury Fiscal Service can offset the individual's tax refund. The debtor is notified in advance of any offset action to be taken.
Individuals may call Treasury Fiscal Service at 1-800-304-3107 with questions about their delinquent debt.
Yes, the number of refunds that can be electronically deposited into a single financial account or pre-paid debit card is limited to three.
If you are due any additional refunds, the IRS will send you a notice informing you that the direct deposit limit has been exceeded, and that you should receive a refund check instead of the direct deposit you requested in approximately four weeks if there are no other issues with the return.
This limit has been put in place to prevent fraudulent refund payments from being made to a single account.
Yes. IRS does permit and has the operational capability to direct a tax refund to a single account or split into different accounts that are in the taxpayer's name, the spouse's name, or both if it is a joint account.
Yes. The taxpayer would complete Form 8888 and submit an instruction with their tax return to authorize splitting the refund to designate all or a portion of their refund toward a savings bond purchase.
No. An RDFI is not required to match the name on the file with the name on the account during payment processing.
Yes. Upon receipt, Treasury Fiscal Service will cancel the direct deposit payment and advise IRS. IRS will research the payment and will direct the Fiscal Service to issue a refund by paper check to the taxpayer's address of record.
No. IRS refund payments sent electronically through the ACH network are not subject to reclamation. If an RDFI receives a tax refund for a deceased account holder, it is not required to take any further action.
Yes. The RDFI does need to take action to return funds and limit its liability if it discovers that federal benefit payments, such as Social Security payments, are also being received in the name of the deceased accountholder since recurring benefit payments are subject to reclamation.
Yes. But the prepaid card provider must ensure that their card account meets the requirements of 31 CFR Part 210.5(b) (5). These requirements include that the card provide pass-through federal deposit insurance; that the card account is not attached to a line of credit upon which repayment is triggered by delivery of a federal payment; and that the card provide the consumer protections that apply to payroll cards under Regulation E.
Yes. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs have provided free tax preparation assistance in the past. Customers can use this link for details on these programs: Free Tax Return Preparation for Qualifying Taxpayers | Internal Revenue Service (irs.gov)
A taxpayer can contact their local IRS office or Taxpayer Advocate located in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico with questions. IRS contact information is available on the IRS website (www.irs.gov). A general telephone number for inquiries is 1-800-829-1040.
The RDFI could contact IRS at 1-800-829-1040 to report the questionable payment. As a general rule, when an RDFI is in doubt, it should return any refunds to the Treasury Fiscal Service. Additionally, if the financial institution suspects that a refund payment or payments is associated with fraud, the institution could use IRS’ External Leads Program by e-mailing information about the questionable refund to firstname.lastname@example.org. IRS will perform additional research into the refund payment or payments.
The IRS and Fiscal Service are currently using several different programs or processes to prevent or identify fraudulent returns as early in the process as possible.
First, NACHA, The Electronic Payments Association, has implemented an opt-in program at the request of IRS and Treasury Fiscal Service to allow RDFIs to use a specific return reason code (R17) to return refunds where fraud is suspected.
Under the opt-in program, once the suspected fraud is identified by the program-participating RDFI, the payment is returned back to Treasury Fiscal Service which routes the payment back to IRS for additional research. RDFIs seeking more information or which are interested in program participation should contact NACHA directly at 703-561-1100 or by email at email@example.com.
Secondly, the IRS has limited the number of refunds that can be electronically deposited into a single financial account or pre-paid debit card to three. This limit has been put in place to prevent fraudulent refund payments from being made to a single account.
Also, if a financial institution suspects that a refund payment or payments is associated with fraud, the institution can use IRS’ External Leads Program by e-mailing information about the questionable refund to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lastly, the IRS, Fiscal Service, the Network Branded Prepaid Card Association, and prepaid card providers continue to meet on a recurring basis to find ways to identify and prevent fraudulent refund payments from being made to a prepaid card account. This workgroup was responsible for developing the opt-in program using the R17 return code and the External Leads Program.
Yes. Federal tax refund payments are not protected against offset by a financial institution.