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IRS.gov Website

Frequently Asked Tax Questions

IRS Procedures - Refund Inquiries

  1. Can I receive a tax refund if I am currently making payments under an installment agreement or payment plan for a prior year's federal taxes?
  2. I lost my refund check. How do I get a new one?
  3. Is it possible to find out if a federal tax refund check has been cashed?
  4. What is a split refund?
  5. What are the benefits of splitting my refund?
  6. How do I split my refund?
  7. Can I still send my refund to just one account?
  8. Does my refund have to exceed a certain amount to split it into different accounts?
  9. If I want to split my refund among different accounts, can those accounts be with different financial institutions?
  10. Must I file electronically to split my refund?
  11. Can I split my refund between a direct deposit and paper check?
  12. If I am filing a joint return with my spouse, must our refund be deposited to a jointly-held account?
  13. Can I direct part or all of my refund to my prior year individual retirement account (IRA)?
  14. Can I direct part of my refund to pay a loan?
  15. If I use a tax professional to prepare my return, will it cost me more to split my refund?
  16. Are there conditions that could change the amount of my direct deposits?
  17. How will the IRS handle my split refund deposits if the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) portion of my refund is withheld pending further review?
  18. What will happen if I owe both back taxes to the IRS and back child support, state taxes, student loans, etc?
  19. What will happen if I enter an incorrect routing or account number?
  20. How can I ensure my refund is deposited as I designate?
  21. What if I entered the correct account and routing numbers, but the IRS made an error in depositing my refund?
  22. If I split my refund, can I still use Where's My Refund? to check my refund status?
  23. I'm requesting an extension of additional time to file my return. Can I still split my refund?
  24. I have not filed my 2005 return yet. Can I also split or direct deposit my 2005 refund?

Rev. date: 10/24/2011

Can I receive a tax refund if I am currently making payments under an installment agreement or payment plan for a prior year's federal taxes?

No.  As a condition of your installment agreement, any refund due to you in a future year will be applied against the amount that you owe.
• The IRS will automatically apply the refund to the taxes owed.
• You must continue making your installment agreement payments as scheduled and in full because your refund is not applied toward your regular payment, and therefore any payments due under the installment agreement must still be made in full..
• Regardless of whether you are participating in an installment agreement or payment plan with the IRS, you may not get all of your refund if you owe certain past-due amounts, such as federal tax, state tax, a student loan, or child support. For more information you can contact Financial Management Service (FMS) toll-free at 800-304-3107.

Rev. date: 10/24/2011

I lost my refund check. How do I get a new one?

If you have lost your refund check, there are several options available to initiate a refund trace on your behalf.
• You can go to the “ Where’s my Refund” system available through www.irs.gov and request assistance.
• You can call the IRS toll-free at 800-829-1954 and either use the automated system or speak with an agent.
• If you filed a Married Filing Joint return, you cannot initiate a trace using the automated system, but the IRS will issue you a Form 3911 (PDF), Taxpayer Statement Regarding Refund, to get the process started.
If your refund check has been cashed, Financial Management Service (FMS) can provide you with a claim package that includes a copy of the check. FMS will review your claim and the signature on the cancelled check before determining whether another refund can be issued to you. FMS review can take up to six weeks to complete.

Rev. date: 10/25/2011

Is it possible to find out if a federal tax refund check has been cashed?

If you need to know whether your federal tax refund check has been cashed, you can initiate a trace on your refund by using one of the following methods:
• You can go to the “Where’s my Refund” system available through www.irs.gov and request assistance.
• You can call the IRS Refund Hotline toll-free at 800-829-1954 and either use the automated system or speak with an agent.
• If you filed a Married Filing Joint return, you cannot initiate a trace using the automated system, but the IRS will issue you a Form 3911 (PDF), Taxpayer Statement Regarding Refund, to get the process started.
If you are trying to obtain a photocopy of your refund check because of a dispute over the proceeds, call the IRS toll-free at 800-829-1954 to request assistance.
By law, the IRS is not allowed to disclose any information to you about someone else’s refund. For example, the IRS cannot discuss with you a check that was issued to another taxpayer.
 
 

Rev. date: 10/25/2011

What is a split refund?

A split refund lets you divide your refund, in any proportion you want, and direct deposit the funds in up to three different accounts with U.S. financial institutions.

Rev. date: 10/25/2011

What are the benefits of splitting my refund?

By splitting your refund, you get the convenience of directing some of your refund to your checking account for immediate needs and sending some to savings for future use. Plus, you get the safety and speed of direct deposit, meaning you will have access to your refund faster than if you opt to receive a paper check.
Instead of choosing between depositing your refund into a checking or saving account and later moving part of your refund to another account, you can allocate your refund among up to three different accounts and send your money where you want it the first time.

Rev. date: 10/25/2011

How do I split my refund?

Simply complete and attach Form 8888 (PDF), Allocation of Refund (Including Savings Bond Purchases), to your federal income tax return to tell the IRS how much and to which of your accounts you want your refund deposited.

Rev. date: 10/25/2011

Can I still send my refund to just one account?

Yes, you can ask the IRS to direct deposit your 2010 refund into one account, or split it among two or three different accounts. The choice is yours.
• If you want your refund deposited into one account, use the special direct deposit lines on your tax return (Forms 1040, line 74A-D, 1040A, line 46 A-D, etc.).
• If you want your refund deposited into two or three accounts use Form 8888, Allocation of Refund (Including Savings Bond Purchases).

Rev. date: 10/25/2011

Does my refund have to exceed a certain amount to split it into different accounts?

Your deposit to each account must be at least $1.00.
Additional Information
2011 Form 8888 (PDF)

Rev. date: 10/25/2011

If I want to split my refund among different accounts, can those accounts be with different financial institutions?

Yes, you can split your refund among up to three different U.S. financial institutions as long as they will accept a direct deposit to your account. Use Form 8888, Allocation of Refund (Including Savings Bond Purchases).

Rev. date: 10/25/2011

Must I file electronically to split my refund?

No, you can split your refund regardless of whether you file electronically or on paper.
See Form 1040 lines 74 A-D, Form 1040 A lines 46 A-D and 1040 EZ lines 12 A-D.
The IRS recommends using e-file to avoid simple mistakes that could change the amount of your refund, and therefore the amount available for deposit.
Additional Information
2011 Form 8888 (PDF)

Rev. date: 10/25/2011

Can I split my refund between a direct deposit and paper check?

Yes, beginning with tax year 2010, you can split your refund bewteen direct depostit and a paper check by using Form 8888, Allocation of Refund (including Saving Bond Purchases).

Rev. date: 10/25/2011

If I am filing a joint return with my spouse, must our refund be deposited to a jointly-held account?

You can ask the IRS to direct deposit a refund on a joint return into your account, your spouse's account, or a joint account.  However, state and financial institution rules can vary, and you should first verify that your financial institution will accept a joint refund into an individual account.

Rev. date: 10/25/2011

Can I direct part or all of my refund to my prior year individual retirement account (IRA)?

 IRS direct deposits of federal tax refunds will not indicate a contribution year for IRA accounts.
• You should ensure your financial institution accepts deposits to prior year IRA accounts.
• As with all IRA deposits, the account owner is responsible for informing their IRA trustee of the year for which the deposit is intended, for ensuring their contributions do not exceed their annual contribution limitations, and for ensuring their contributions are timely made.
If you fail to notify your IRA trustee of the intended year for the deposit, your trustee can assume the deposit is for the current year (e.g. a refund received in 2010 is for 2010 not 2009).
The IRS is not 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—i.e., by the due date of the return (without regard to extensions).
If the deposit is not made into your account by the due date of the return (without regard to extensions), the deposit is a contribution for 2012, rather than 2011, and you must file an amended 2011 return and reduce any IRA deduction and any retirement savings contributions credit you claimed.
 

Rev. date: 10/25/2011

Can I direct part of my refund to pay a loan?

No.  You cannot opt for a direct deposit into a loan account.

Rev. date: 10/25/2011

If I use a tax professional to prepare my return, will it cost me more to split my refund?

The government does not charge a fee to split a refund.  However, tax preparation fees could vary.  Ask your tax professional about his/her fees up front.
 

Rev. date: 11/1/2011

Are there conditions that could change the amount of my direct deposits?

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, mistakes,  delinquent federal taxes, state taxes, child support, student loans, or other delinquent federal nontax obligations, or if the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)portion of your refund is withheld pending further review.

Rev. date: 10/25/2011

How will the IRS handle my split refund deposits if the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) portion of my refund is withheld pending further review?

The IRS will deduct the difference from the amount you designated for the last account shown on Form 8888. If the difference exceeds the amount designated for the last account, the IRS will deduct the remainder from the amount designated to the next account, etc.
You will receive a letter from the IRS explaining why a portion of your refund was withheld, the effect on your direct deposit(s), and what information you need to provide to verify your EITC eligibility. If the IRS later determines you are eligible to receive the credit, the IRS will deposit the amount withheld into the first account you designated on Form 8888.
 

Rev. date: 1/1/2010

What will happen if I owe both back taxes to the IRS and back child support, state taxes, student loans, etc?

If you owe delinquent federal taxes, the IRS will withhold the balance due from your refund.
Additionally, if you owe delinquent state income taxes, back child support, or delinquent non-tax federal debts such as student loans, etc., the Department of Treasury's Financial Management Service (FMS) will deduct the past-due amounts from the payment that appears first on the payment file received from the IRS (the IRS payment file orders accounts from the lowest to the highest routing number). If the debt exceeds the payment designated for the account that appears first on the payment file, FMS will reduce the payment designated for the account that appears next, etc.  For questions about the deductions for past-due amounts, call FMS toll-free at 800-304-3107.
You will receive a letter explaining any adjustments the IRS made to your refund amount and direct deposit(s). You will receive a separate letter from FMS explaining any offset amount, the agency receiving the payment, the address and telephone number of the agency, and amount of your refund/direct deposit that was offset. If you dispute the debt on the letter you receive from FMS, you should contact the agency shown on the notice, not the IRS, because the IRS has no information about the validity of the debt.
Information about your refund offsets will also be available through Where's My Refund?

Rev. date: 1/1/2011

What will happen if I enter an incorrect routing or account number?

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 your return.
Be very careful, entering your account and routing numbers. The IRS will handle account or routing number errors on split refunds the same as for regular direct deposits.
For example, if:
Solution

Rev. date: 11/1/2011

How can I ensure my refund is deposited as I designate?

Check with your financial institution to ensure they will accept a direct deposit for the type of account you are designating. Some financial institutions will accept direct deposits for some types of accounts, but not others.

Rev. date: 10/25/2011

What if I entered the correct account and routing numbers, but the IRS made an error in depositing my refund?

The IRS will correct any agency errors. Contact an IRS customer service representative by calling 800-829-1040 (toll-free).
However unfortunately this could result in a paper check.
 

Rev. date: 10/25/2011

If I split my refund, can I still use Where's My Refund? to check my refund status?

Yes. You can check the status of a split refund using the Where’s My Refund?   Feature available on IRS.gov or by calling the IRS's Refund Hotline toll-free at 800-829-1954.
• Where's My Refund? will include a message confirming that your refund was split.
• It will not specify the amount deposited into each account, but it will tell you the estimated date of the deposits and, if the IRS adjusted the amount of your refund for math errors, etc., will tell you the amount of the adjustment.

 

Rev. date: 10/25/2011

I'm requesting an extension of additional time to file my return. Can I still split my refund?

Yes.  You can split your refund on any original (current tax year only) return, even if you have an extension of time to file your return.

Rev. date: 10/25/2011

I have not filed my 2005 return yet. Can I also split or direct deposit my 2005 refund?

No.  Neither refund splitting nor direct deposit is available for any prior tax year.