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Did you move? It could affect your stimulus check and tax refund. How to tell the IRS, USPS now

If you've changed your address lately and don't have direct deposit set up with the IRS, do this so you can receive your missing stimulus money or tax refund in the mail.

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With a tax refund and third stimulus check being mailed out, make sure you're set up to receive them.

Sarah Tew/CNET

If you moved any time between 2019 and today or are planning to change your address soon, you need to inform both the USPS and IRS as soon as possible (we'll provide step-by-step details below). Filing a change of address form is important for receiving mail at your new residence any time, but there are additional reasons why you shouldn't delay that have to do with your tax refund and receiving a third stimulus check, even if you receive your stimulus money though direct deposit

This advice applies to people who are waiting for missing stimulus money from the first and second stimulus payments approved in 2020, people who anticipate receiving a third stimulus check and those who are waiting for their tax refund (the 2020 tax return deadline is now May 17). Even if you have direct deposit already set up with the IRS, it's important your correct address is on file with both institutions in case there's an issue you need to address later on.

With President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan for 2021 passed on March 11, having your correct address on file means you can receive important documents, in addition to any money that could come your way from additional payments like the 2021 Child Tax Credit or supplemental unemployment insurance, assuming those additional benefits apply to you. And here's what we know  about a possible fourth stimulus check.) This story was recently updated with new information.

3 reasons the IRS and USPS need to know you've moved

Here's why you want to inform the USPS of your new address, and then do the same with the IRS when you file your tax return, which is now due May 17

First, the process to claim any missing stimulus money 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. So you need to make sure that doesn't go to an old address. 

Second, whether or not you have a direct deposit account on file with the government, it's possible you may receive the next stimulus check as a paper check or as an EIP card. This IRS tracking tool can help tell you how you'll get your stimulus money. Anecdotally, people have reported receiving the first payment through direct deposit and the second as an EIP card. Once the IRS processes your payment, the final say in how you receive the money is up to the IRS and Treasury.

Third, even if you received both stimulus payments so far through direct deposit, this applies to you, too. You'll 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 winds up experiencing 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.

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USPS: How to forward your US mail to a new address

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 usps.com/move.

2. Fill out the form with your contact information, the date you'd like the mail to start forwarding and te 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.

How to inform the IRS you've moved

Once you've completed your change of address with USPS, you may also need to let the IRS know your new address -- especially if you haven't received the first stimulus check yet. The IRS says if you filed a 2019 tax return and didn't provide your direct deposit information, the payment will be sent to the address on file. However, if you've forwarded your mail, USPS will have the updated information to get your check to you.

Read more: An IRS payment trace may find your missing stimulus money. Here's how to get one

If you haven't filed your 2020 taxes but plan to, use your new address. 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 first stimulus payment, you can still claim your payment as Recovery Rebate Credit on your taxes this year. (Here's how to file a tax extension if you won't be able to meet the May 17 deadline.)

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. You can also 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. Note that it can take four to six weeks for your change of address to be processed by the IRS.

For more information, here's every way the stimulus bill can benefit you, all the third stimulus check details you need and what we know about a potential fourth stimulus check.