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My tax refund was deposited in the wrong account? What now?

By Karin Price Mueller | for

Q. When I filed my income taxes, the money went to a different account number instead of my bank account. What can I do?

— Stumped

A. Sounds like a mess, for sure.

But you can take steps to try to get this fixed.

Your question shows how important it is, when you have an income tax refund direct deposited to your bank account, that you make sure the routing and bank account numbers are entered correctly on your income tax return.

The routing number identifies your bank and branch and the account number identifies your particular bank account, said Bernie Kiely, a certified financial planner and certified public accountant with Kiely Capital Management in Morristown.

“If you put a non-existent routing or bank account number the deposit attempt will bounce and the IRS will probably send you a check,” he said.

He said if you put the correct routing number but mess up your account number by a single digit, your refund is going to the other bank account.

If you incorrectly enter an account or routing number that belongs to someone else and your designated financial institution accepts the deposit, you must work directly with the respective financial institution to recover your funds, the IRS says.

“If funds aren’t available or the bank refuses to return the funds, the IRS cannot compel the bank to do so,” it said. “The case may then become a civil matter between you and the financial institution and/or the owner of the account into which the funds were deposited.”

Email your questions to

Karin Price Mueller writes the Bamboozled column for NJ Advance Media and is the founder of Follow NJMoneyHelp on Twitter @NJMoneyHelp. Find NJMoneyHelp on Facebook. Sign up for’s weekly e-newsletter.


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