Preparing taxes can be a difficult and detail-oriented exercise that can easily result in mistakes or errors if you don't take sufficient care in the process. Individuals preparing their own taxes without consulting a professional often make mistakes. Filing your tax returns electronically saves time but can result in errors, such as submitting the wrong routing number for your bank account. Fortunately, you can easily correct this mistake in most cases, although it can be a time-consuming process.
Verify the Routing Number Error
Verify the routing number error. When filing an electronic tax return you are required to provide the IRS with an ABA routing number for your financial institution in order receive refund payments or to pay any outstanding tax balance.
The routing number is a nine-digit number assigned by the American Bankers Association. If you incorrectly entered this number, you will not receive an electronic refund payment nor will any payment from your account transfer to the IRS.
Read More: What's My Wells Fargo Routing Number?
Call the IRS
Tax preparation company Liberty Tax advises tax filers to contact the IRS directly if there is an error in the routing number. Call 1-800-829-1040 and explain the error to an IRS representative. The IRS will make any necessary changes.
This used to be the easiest and most thorough course of action for changing a routing number. However, recently, the IRS has been encouraging electronic correspondence instead of calling, so it may not be the best option these days.
Note that due to limited staffing caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the IRS discourages phone calls at this time. Live phone assistance is extremely limited.
Wait for Your Refund
Wait two weeks for your tax refund. In addition to changing your routing number, you need to track down your errant refund. The IRS recommends waiting 21 days or more for a paper check to arrive by mail if you failed to receive an electronic payment.
In the event that funds were sent to an incorrect account as a result of your routing number error, the financial institution will discover the error in a timely manner and return the funds to the IRS. The IRS will then send you a paper check for the entire amount of any refund you're owed.
File Form 3911
If you choose not to call the IRS to change your routing number and have still not received any refund check, the IRS recommends filing a Form 3911. Filing this form will not change your routing number, but it will inform the IRS of any missing refund payment related to a routing number error on your tax return.
The CARES Act provided stimulus payments for many Americans to offset the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. If you were eligible, but did not receive a stimulus payment due to a routing error, you can file a form 3911 to alert the IRS that your economic impact payment was not received.
Write "EIP" across the top of the form and enter 2020 as the tax period. Do not write a filing date. Complete the rest of the form as it pertains to your anticipated stimulus payment and send it to the IRS.
Contact a Professional Tax Preparer
If you are not sure about contacting the IRS to resolve the issue or prefer not to file a Form 3911 on your own, contact a professional tax preparer. Explain your issue to this person and they will help guide you in changing your routing number and recover any tax refund the IRS owes you. If the situation is deemed to be the result of fraud, there is little that can be done other than contacting the IRS and the involved financial institution. Always be certain to verify that your tax preparer has a current Preparer Tax Identification Number and is not a "ghost" preparer before sharing any sensitive information.
Read More: When Can You Get That Tax Refund?
Leeland Bettis has been writing about investment since 2005. As the former editor of an investment newsletter his work has appeared in Forbes.com, the Bloomberg Financial Network and other reputable news publications around the world. Bettis holds a Master of Arts in international relations from the National University of Singapore.