IRS Tool Lets You Add Bank Info for Coronavirus Check — But Not Change It

In this illustration, a man weighed down by the coronavirus reaches for the government check he's supposed to get.
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For weeks the IRS has told us: Sign up for direct deposit. You’ll get your coronavirus relief check faster.

But there was no way for people who had already done their 2019 taxes to provide their banking information if the IRS didn’t have it on file.

But on April 15, the IRS released its Get My Payment app via its website, just as the first stimulus check direct deposits started arriving.

The Get My Payment app lets you track your stimulus payment. If the IRS doesn’t have your bank account information, the feature lets you submit it.

But… there’s a pretty big flaw.

What if I Closed the Bank Account the IRS Has on File?

The IRS didn’t release the new feature until it had already started sending payments via direct deposit. If you filed a 2018 or 2019 return and have since closed the bank account you provided?

There’s still nothing you can do to update your payment information with the IRS, and that means you’ll wait longer for your coronavirus checks.

The IRS has most likely processed your payment already. When you provide your information to track your check, chances are that it will show that your payment is being deposited to your old account.

Your old bank will reject the payment, which means it goes back to the IRS. The IRS will put you in line to receive a paper check.

Within 15 days, you should receive a letter in the mail that explains what to do if you didn’t receive a payment. The IRS will send the letter to your last known address. And if that’s changed since you filed your 2019 return? As of this writing, there doesn’t appear to be any way to update that either.

The only guidance the IRS offers under the “Update your bank account or mailing address” is this:

  • 2019 Filers: We will send your payment using the information you provided with your 2019 tax return. You will not be able to change it. (Emphasis added.)
  • 2018 Filers: If you need to change your account information or mailing address, file your 2019 taxes electronically as soon as possible. That is the only way to let us know your new information.

But if you filed in 2018 and have yet to file in 2019, the IRS has probably already processed your payment… using your 2018 direct deposit info.

… but Most People Won’t Have Trouble Getting Stimulus Check Direct Deposit

This won’t be a problem for the vast majority of people who filed a 2018 or 2019 return and provided banking information for an account they still use. Likewise for people whose Social Security benefits are deposited to an active bank account.

But for a small number of people who have closed their bank accounts and/or changed addresses since they filed their most recent tax returns, this is going to be a headache. And for now, the Get My Payment feature offers no relief.

If you have questions about stimulus payments, check out our coronavirus relief check FAQ. Submit new questions to [email protected].

Robin Hartill is a senior editor at The Penny Hoarder and a certified financial planner. She writes the Dear Penny personal finance advice column.