You could be missing out on money if the IRS doesn’t know you moved. Here’s why


If you’re expecting a stimulus payment or tax refund by mail, make sure your current mailing address is correct. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

If you’re still waiting for a child tax credit check or one of the three stimulus check payments there’s a reason why your money may be missing: The IRS may not know that you’ve moved. And even though you may have informed the United States Postal Service of your new address, not all post offices forward government checks. Forgetting to do this can result in you missing out on thousands of dollars. 

This may be the case for millions of parents who are still waiting for their monthly advance child tax credit payments that started in July. Parents without accurate direct deposit information on file will get their checks mailed to the address on file with the IRS, not the USPS. But what if it’s not updated? Where does the money go? 

We’ll show you how to update your address to get delayed payments rolling in. Also, here’s the latest on a child tax credit extension. We also dug into other child tax credit problems that parents are facing, when to expect your federal tax refund check and unemployment refund details. This story was recently updated. 

Child tax credit payments  

The new child tax credit payments are going out monthly to eligible parents through December — you can calculate your payment here. If you don’t have direct deposit set up with the IRS, your payments will likely arrive as paper checks. And if you’re still waiting for a child tax credit check and you qualify for the money, a wrong address could be the problem. You can track your payment or file a payment trace to see if it went to the wrong address. 

However, if you’ve moved recently and you haven’t updated your information with the IRS or USPS, it’s likely your money could wind up at your old address, potentially causing a delay as you wait for your check to be rerouted. You can now update your mailing address using the Child Tax Credit Update Portal to make sure your payments are being sent to the right place.  

Missing stimulus payments

Stimulus checks are still going out as fresh payments and plus-up payments, if the IRS owes you more than it already paid. You can expect these payments through the end of the year. Some states are sending more stimulus checks and that’s easy to miss out on if your address isn’t updated. 

Also, if you’re missing stimulus money, the process to claim it is tied up with your tax return. If you get a tax refund this year and you don’t sign up for direct deposit, you’ll receive your funds as a paper check from the US Treasury and that may go to an old address. 

Whether or not you have a direct deposit account on file with the government, it’s possible you may receive a stimulus check as a paper check or EIP card. This IRS tracking tool can help tell you how you’ll get your stimulus money. Once the IRS processes your payment, the final say in how you receive the money is up to the IRS and the Treasury.

You’ll also want to make sure you get the IRS letter verifying when it sent your payment. This is important for anyone who may be eligible for a stimulus check but who experiences an unexpected holdup receiving their money. This IRS notice will be your ticket to settling any errors or submitting a claim for missing money during tax season 2021 (filed in 2022), if it comes down to that.

Your delayed tax refund

The tax extension deadline is fast approaching (Oct. 15). If you recently filed your taxes and you’re expecting your tax refund — and possible missing stimulus money — to arrive in the mail, make sure the information you input when filing your tax return is correct. The deadline also gives you a few weeks to file a change-of-address form.

New address information can be easy to overlook — especially if you use a tax software program that stores your information for easy filing. If you did update your address in the tax filing system, make sure you also let the USPS know.

Next year’s tax return and refund

If you’ve already filed your taxes this year and gotten your refund but you’ve moved since then, now’s a good time to update your information in the system. This will save you a step next year and prevent any errors or delays with your next tax refund. 

If you decide to opt out of your child tax credit payments this year, they’ll be tied to your tax refund in 2022. You don’t want to miss out on a potential $3,600 payment per kid. Add another $16,000 max that you can potentially claim on your taxes next year for any child care expenses you paid this year.

How to let the IRS know if you’ve moved

Once you’ve completed your change of address with USPS (see instructions below), it’s time to let the IRS know your new address. Note that it can take four to six weeks for your change of address to be processed by the IRS. Here are your options.

Use your new address when you file your 2020 tax return if you haven’t done so yet. The IRS says it will update its records with your new address. If you’re typically not required to file taxes and haven’t received your stimulus payment, you can still claim your payment as Recovery Rebate Credit on your taxes this year.

If you already filed your taxes and didn’t include your new address, you can notify the IRS of your address change by filling out Form 8822. 

Let the IRS know in writing “the address where you filed your last return” by giving your full name, your old and new addresses, your Social Security number, individual taxpayer identification number or employer identification number and your signature. The IRS says you can also do this by phone, but it may request additional information. 

How to forward your mail to a new address via USPS

When you move, it’s important to forward your mail so don’t miss any important documents — including a stimulus check. Here’s how to do it.

1. Go to

2. Fill out the form with your contact information, the date you’d like the mail to start forwarding and the details of your old and new addresses. Make sure everything is accurate and click Next when you’re ready to move on. 

3. Then, you’ll need to provide a payment method. It costs $1.05 each time you forward your mailing address. Note that you can’t use a prepaid credit or debit card to do this. (Here is some additional information on the topic.)

4. Once you’ve paid, you’ll receive an email confirmation that your change of address has been filed.

5. At your new address, look for a USPS Confirmation Notification Letter and welcome kit in the mail. USPS says it can take anywhere from three business days to two weeks before you start receiving your forwarded mail.

For more information, here’s who qualifies for the new child tax credit. Also, here’s how you could get a $10,200 tax break from the IRS and what to know about the $300 weekly unemployment benefits.