Stimulus checks and direct deposit: When and how you can sign up to get the payment sent to your bank

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Don’t have a direct deposit account on file with the IRS? We’ll help you get started.

Angela Lang/CNET

Already this week, the IRS has sent $242 billion straight to the bank accounts of those who have set up direct deposit with the federal government. If you qualify for the third check there’s a fair chance your money has arrived in your bank account. But the IRS isn’t done and said it will be making more payments over the coming weeks to banks and via the mail as paper checks and EIP cards. If the IRS doesn’t have your banking information, is it too late to supply it? The answer is yes and no.

You have a good reason to want your payment to go straight to your bank account: With the first two rounds of payments, the IRS and US Treasury prioritized payments to people with direct deposit information on file, and Congress has tasked them to do the same with the third check. (Here’s how to calculate your new payment.) So what happens if you’re qualified for a check but don’t have direct deposit set up?

With the first check, the IRS let you add banking information through its Get My Payment tool. For the second check, the agency didn’t accept new or updated direct deposit information. With the third stimulus check now going out, here’s everything you should know about direct deposit payments and what you can and can’t do. This story has been updated with new information.

Will the IRS let me sign up to receive the third payment as a direct deposit?

Yes. In certain situations.

First, if you signed up for direct deposit when you submit your federal taxes this year, you may get your third payment sent to your bank. Some people are reporting that the IRS did use the banking information they supplied on this year’s taxes to send the the third payment.

Next, if you check the IRS Get My Payment tool to get the status of your payment and you see a “Need More Information” message, that means your payment was returned to the IRS because the post office was unable to deliver it. If this is your situation, you can have the IRS reissue your payment as a direct deposit by providing a routing and account number for your banking account in the tool. The IRS said you should see this message and be able to supply your banking information two to three weeks after your payment was returned to the IRS.

You can’t, however, set up direct deposit in the tool without first having your payment returned. For the first check, the IRS let those who were eligible add direct deposit details to receive their payments straight to their bank accounts. The IRS shut down the direct deposit registration feature on May 15, 2020, and didn’t turn it back on for the second checks, when the agency had just over two weeks to complete making payments. 

This time, the IRS said it’ll “use data already in its systems to send the third stimulus payments. Taxpayers with direct deposit information on file will receive the payment that way. Those without current direct deposit information on file will receive the payment as a check or debit card in the mail.”

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Why would I want to use direct deposit to get my stimulus check money?

Over 75% of the first round of payments and more than 80% of the second payments were distributed via direct deposit. During the first stimulus check round, the IRS encouraged people who didn’t have direct deposit on file with the agency to sign up for direct deposit anyway. The agency said these people could still receive their checks faster even if they signed up “late” compared with waiting for a mailed check.

What information does the IRS need to set up a new direct deposit account?

If the IRS does accept new banking information for the third check through its Get My Payment tool, you’ll want to have on hand your bank account type and routing and account numbers. You have several ways to find this banking information.

Banking website: Your bank’s website may show your routing and account numbers. Log in to the account you want to use and look around for the numbers you need.

Banking app: If your bank has an app, it may show you your account and routing numbers. In the app, tap the account you want to use to see the account and routing numbers.

Printed check: At the bottom of your check you most likely will see three sets of numbers: The first set of nine numbers is your routing number. The second set of 8 to 12 numbers is your account number. The third set is the one you don’t need for direct deposit, as it’s the number of the individual check.

Check this IRS page for more help with locating your routing and account numbers.


You may want to set up direct deposit with the IRS if you don’t have it already in place.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Am I guaranteed to get my stimulus check through direct deposit?

If you already have direct deposit set up with the IRS, the agency said it will use that information to make your payment. keto diet for powerlifters the first and second checks, however, some reported receiving their payments in the mail, either as a paper check or an EIP card, even if the IRS did have their bank details. The vast majority of the first and second payments did go out via electronic transfer. You can track your payment using the IRS payment status tool.

If you needed any motivation to send in your tax returns early, the IRS said it will use your most recent federal tax forms it’s processed when determining the amount of your third payment. If you included your banking information when you filed, the IRS may use that when sending your payment. It’s a gamble that the IRS will have processed your new filing by the time it gets to your name, but that’s still a possibility.

What if there’s a problem with direct deposit?

This could happen. With the earlier payments, the IRS experienced problems sending stimulus payments for millions of people who use tax preparation software like TurboTax and Jackson Hewitt. Now that the IRS is sending the third checks in the middle of tax season, this could become an issue again.

How would the IRS would have gotten my banking details for the third check?

The IRS has several ways to find your banking information:

  • You filed a tax return in 2019 or 2020 and received a refund by direct deposit.
  • You already filed your tax forms this year and provided the IRS with your banking information.

  • You registered your banking information for the first check through the IRS’ Get My Payment online tool.
  • You provided bank information through the Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here tool if you don’t typically file taxes.
  • From another federal agency who issues benefits to you, such as Social Security Administration, Veteran Affairs or Railroad Retirement Board.
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In general, you’ll get your money faster through direct deposit than with a paper check.

Stephen Shankland/CNET

What happens if my banking details have changed for direct deposit?

With the first stimulus checks, you could use the Get My Payment and Non-Filers tools to provide the IRS with your banking information. The IRS had said, however, it does not allow people to change the direct deposit information for a stimulus payment it has on file. This is a safeguard against fraud. 

With the second checks, the IRS did not accepting new or changed banking information. If the IRS attempts to make a payment to now-closed bank account, the financial institution must return the payment to the IRS, the agency said. 

This time, If your bank information is invalid or the account has been closed, the bank will return your payment to the IRS and the agency will mail it to you by check at the address it have on file, the IRS said.

If you’ve moved, you can provide the IRS with your new mailing address.

Do I need to have a bank account to get my check by direct deposit?

According to the Urban Institute, people with bank accounts and direct deposit (who are disproportionately white) were more likely to get their first stimulus check by the end of May than people who identify as Black or Hispanic or who were below the poverty line. This was directly tied to groups who were more likely to have banking accounts and who filed that information with the IRS to facilitate direct deposit tax returns.

Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and several other large banks now offer more affordable checkless bank accounts as part of a program to make it easier for people to get bank accounts. 

For more on the checks, here’s when the IRS will start sending the third checks, how much you could qualify for with this payment and how to track your payment with the IRS.

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