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I Filed My Taxes Online and Entered the Wrong Direct Deposit Routing Number. What Should I Do?

These days, millions of Americans file their taxes online and receive their federal and state tax refunds via direct deposit. With the advent of broadband technology and affordable electronic financial transfers, this has become a matter of routine. After all, it's often cheaper and faster to process tax payments through the Internet. Waiting for an appointment with a registered tax preparation specialist can take time and produce plenty of inconveniences.

Unfortunately, the newly-automated tax-filing system is not without its drawbacks. Chief among these is the potential for a single transcription error to cause major problems. It's bad enough to enter the wrong income on your tax form: If you discover that you've made such a mistake, you'll need to refile your taxes using the IRS's Form-1040X. Otherwise, you'll risk tax "clawbacks" and potential criminal prosecution.

It may be even worse to provide the IRS with the wrong routing number for the bank account into which you'd like your tax refund to be deposited. When you file your taxes online, you'll need to provide the IRS with your exact bank account and routing number. If either of these numbers is entered incorrectly, you could face a host of problems. Sadly, there's no guarantee that you'll be able to recover financially from such a mistake. If your refund is routed into the wrong bank account without your knowledge, the individual to whom the account belongs may choose to spend it in short order. This could dramatically complicate the situation and necessitate the involvement of law enforcement authorities.

If you realize that you've made this mistake, there are several different ways in which your case could unfold. First, your refund deposit could simply be rejected. If the routing number that you specified doesn't belong to a specific bank, the deposit will fail and the IRS will be forced to mail you a paper check. Although this can take up to two months from the date of the failed deposit, it's likely that you'll see the full amount of your refund.

If the routing number that you provided belongs to a specific bank, it's possible that the bank has successfully received the deposit. If this is the case, you'll need to figure out the name of the bank that has your money. It's likely that the refund will be sitting in an unused or "surplus" account. In this case, the bank should simply return the funds to you via check. If the account is owned by another person, you may need to reason with them directly.


This article contains general legal information but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation. The Law Dictionary is not a law firm, and this page does not create an attorney-client or legal adviser relationship. If you have specific questions, please consult a qualified attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

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