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  5. Guide to IRS Form 8888: Direct Deposit of Your Tax Refund in Multiple Accounts

Guide to IRS Form 8888: Direct Deposit of Your Tax Refund in Multiple Accounts

Updated for Tax Year 2020


With the convenience and security of direct deposit available at most financial institutions, more taxpayers are requesting payment of their tax refunds by direct deposit.

The federal tax filing deadline for individuals has been extended to May 17, 2021. Quarterly estimated tax payments are still due on April 15, 2021. For additional questions and the latest information on the tax deadline change, visit our “IRS Announced Federal Tax Filing and Payment Deadline Extension” blog post.

For information on the third coronavirus relief package, please visit our “American Rescue Plan: What Does it Mean for You and a Third Stimulus Check” blog post.

Woman using an ATM to withdraw her tax refund.
With the convenience and security of direct deposit available at most financial institutions, more taxpayers are requesting payment of their tax refunds by direct deposit rather than paper checks.

And now, if you file IRS Form 8888 with your federal tax return, the Internal Revenue Service will direct deposit your refund into multiple accounts and even give you the option of purchasing U.S. savings bonds.

Direct deposit options

A benefit of filing Form 8888 is that it eliminates the delay of having to transfer your tax refund to different accounts yourself. Moreover, you can receive your refund in various types of accounts—not just checking and savings. Among other types of investment or brokerage accounts, your expanded direct deposit options include:

  • IRA accounts
  • Archer Medical Savings Accounts
  • Coverdell Education Savings Accounts
  • TreasuryDirect online accounts

A TreasuryDirect account allows you to purchase many federal government securities in paperless format, but you’ll need to access the website (www.treasurydirect.gov) and open an account before requesting this deposit option on Form 8888.

You can even have the IRS send you a paper check for a portion of the refund in addition to any direct deposits you request.

Purchasing U.S. Savings Bonds

You can purchase up to $5,000 of series I U.S. savings bonds as an additional option to receiving all or part of your refund in the form of an electronic deposit or paper check.

  • The benefit of purchasing this type of savings bond is that the interest you earn is exempt from state income taxes.
  • You may be able to receive the interest free of federal income tax if you pay higher education expenses for yourself, your spouse, or your dependents and satisfy other eligibility requirements.

Preparing Form 8888

Part I of Form 8888 allows you to allocate the tax refund across three different accounts.

  • You’ll need to enter each account and routing number and indicate whether it’s designated as a checking or savings account.
  • To the right of each account, you must specify the portion of your tax refund that the IRS should deposit to that account.

If you are purchasing bonds, you must fill out Part II and indicate the total amount of your refund you’re applying toward the bond purchase. Below this line are additional lines that allow you to purchase up to two bonds, which can be in anyone’s name.

If you want a portion of your refund by paper check, you’ll need to fill out Part III with the amount.

To ensure that all amounts listed throughout Form 8888 add up to the total tax overpayment reported on your return, all filers must fill out Part IV.

Form 8888 warnings and tips

You shouldn’t file Form 8888 if you’re:

  • requesting a paper check for the entire refund or
  • having it all deposited into one account.

You can indicate these choices of deposit directly on your tax return. Form 8888 should be used for the direct deposit of your refund into two or more accounts, including the purchase of U.S. savings bonds.

You should also be aware that your deposits may be rejected by your financial institution if:

  • the account is in someone else’s name or
  • the refund is for a joint return but the account you request the deposit to go into is only in one spouse’s name.

One more tip: if the processing of your return is delayed by the IRS, your refund may not be split; all of it will be deposited into the first account listed on Form 8888. Be sure that the first account listed on Form 8888 is the account that you want the entire refund to be deposited in if this should happen.

When you use TurboTax to prepare your taxes, we’ll provide these options when you’re ready to file, and we’ll fill in all the right tax forms for you.

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