How Do I Fix My Tax Return if I Messed Up on My Account Number to Be Direct Deposited?

by Jane Meggitt ; Updated August 02, 2018
A mistake on your direct deposit information can delay your tax refund.

One wrong number can end up causing a big mess and jeopardize your direct deposit tax refund. The wrong account number on your tax return direct deposit might cause your refund to go into someone else’s checking account. You might check out the “Where’s my refund?” section on the IRS website, but that will only show that the refund was processed. It doesn’t show that it went into someone else’s account. Fortunately, there are ways to correct the error.

Wrong Account Number on Tax Refund

When you submit the wrong account number for your refund direct deposit, several scenarios may take place. Most often, the number won’t pass the IRS’ validation check, so you’ll receive a check in the mail rather than have the tax refund directly deposited into your account. If the number does pass the IRS’ validation check, it’s likely your bank will reject it and send the deposit back to the IRS. Again, the IRS will send a check in the mail. If it’s the right routing number but the wrong account number, there’s a possibility the check was directly deposited into another person’s account. In this instance, you must work directly with the bank to get your money back.

Straightening Out the Issue

If you realize just after submission that you’ve put the wrong number on your tax return direct deposit, call the IRS at 800-829-1040, Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and ask them to stop the direct deposit. If it’s a matter of the right routing number but wrong account number and your tax refund went into someone else’s account but the bank in question doesn’t respond to your inquiries within two weeks, file Form 3911 with the IRS. That’s the “Taxpayer Statement Regarding Refund” and the filing of this form authorizes the IRS to start a trace of your refund. The bank must respond to the IRS within 90 days.

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When the Bank Won’t Return Funds

If the bank won’t return the funds, the IRS basically bows out. Then the onus is on you, as the situation becomes a civil matter between you and the bank and whomever is the owner of the account that erroneously received your refund check.

Preventing Errors

An ounce of prevention is always worth a pound of cure, or at least the amount of your tax refund. Prevent errors by checking and rechecking the routing and account number prior to filing your return. If you use a tax preparer, check the numbers yourself before giving the filing go-ahead.

About the Author

A graduate of New York University, Jane Meggitt's work has appeared in dozens of publications, including Sapling, Zack's, Financial Advisor, nj.com, LegalZoom and The Nest.

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