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Direct deposit and your next stimulus check: Here’s what you can’t do – CNET

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A second round of stimulus check money is on the way — but you still have questions.

Angela Lang/CNET

Since the end of December, the IRS has been sending second stimulus checks for up to $600 to bank accounts via direct deposit and the mail.  For tens of millions of Americans who qualify for a check, the IRS is making the direct payments automatically. But it’s is also working under a tight Jan. 15 deadline to deliver the second stimulus checks, setting new restrictions over what you can and can’t do.

The situation isn’t totally straightforward, and there are some facts you should be aware of. For example, while most people won’t have to register to receive a second stimulus check, you also have little control over how the IRS will make your payment and when.

That can be frustrating it you’re monitoring your bank account for a new deposit of your second stimulus check, if you aren’t sure why you got the amount of money you did (here’s who may not qualify) and if you should watch your mail for a paper check or EIP card instead. To help, the IRS has reopened its tracking tool so you can check the status of your payment. We’ll help you stay informed about what you need to know. This story has updated with new information.

Who gets direct deposit stimulus checks today?

The IRS is calculating second stimulus check totals and the US Treasury is cutting the payments. They’re going out now to people who already have direct deposit set up with the IRS. There is currently no way to register your information if you’re not already on file with the IRS. That means if the IRS doesn’t already have your banking information on hand, you’ll likely get a paper check or EIP card through the mail, but both methods that could take much longer (more on this below). You can, however, track your stimulus payment schedule using the Get Payment tool.

Here’s how the IRS would have gotten your banking details for the second check:

  • Your most recently filed tax return if you received a refund by direct deposit in 2019.
  • If 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.

Read more: Everything we know about a third stimulus check.

Now playing: Watch this: Second stimulus checks: Everything you need to know


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The Jan. 15 stimulus check deadline and why direct deposit matters

Jan. 15 is the cutoff date Congress set in the December stimulus bill when the IRS and US Treasury must stop sending new stimulus checks, through direct deposit and the mail. 

Anyone who doesn’t get a second stimulus check sorted by that date would have to take the extra step of claiming it as a Recovery Rebate Credit as part of this year’s tax season, presumably with exceptions for people not typically required to file taxes

That means the timing for getting paid would vary wildly depending on when you’re able to complete your taxes and how quickly the IRS would process your tax return. For example, people who file in February could receive their second stimulus money months before people who file in April. It isn’t clear if applying for a tax extension would further delay matters.

Can you sign up to get a second stimulus check through direct deposit?

With the first round, the IRS let people enter their direct deposit information using an online tool as a way to potentially get their payment faster. In fact, the IRS encouraged it, setting a May 13 deadline for new submissions. For the second check, the IRS is not letting you your provide your banking information, if agency doesn’t already have it, or change it if the direct-deposit information the IRS has it out of date.

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

Sarah Tew/CNET

Can I change or correct my banking details 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 new checks, the IRS is 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 saids. The IRS said is looking at options to correct these payments and said if you have not received your full payment by the time you file your 2020 tax return, you may claim it as a Recovery Rebate Credit on your tax return.

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

It it necessary to have a bank account to use 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, Hispanic or 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. 

Read moreSorry, not everyone will get a second stimulus payment

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

While the IRS is not accepting new banking information for the second check through the Get My Payment tool, if it does for a possible third check, 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.

For more on the checks, here’s how to calculate how much money you might get in a second stimulus check and everything you should know about stimulus qualifications now.