Don't forget to update the IRS and USPS if you move. Here's why

Any money you're waiting on could be delayed if you don't update your address.

Katie Teague Writer II
Katie is a writer covering all things how-to at CNET, with a focus on Social Security and notable events. When she's not writing, she enjoys playing in golf scrambles, practicing yoga and spending time on the lake.
Expertise Personal Finance: Social Security and taxes
Katie Teague
5 min read

If you're expecting child tax credit money or a tax refund by mail, make sure your current mailing address is correct. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

If you've moved recently or you're planning to very soon, there are a couple of things you'll need to add to your already busy to-do list. Between unpacking and settling into your new place, you may have forgotten to forward your mail through the United States Postal Service, or to give the IRS your new address. 

If you don't update your details with both agencies, you might miss out on money and important letters, such as Letter 6419 related to the child tax credit or Letter 6475 related to missing stimulus money. If you update just with USPS, not all post offices forward government checks, so notifying the IRS is also critical. 

Here's why you should update your address as soon as possible. Also, here's the latest on child tax credit payments getting extended. This story was recently updated. 

1. So your final 2021 child tax credit payment isn't delayed

The enhanced monthly child tax credit payments ended in December -- you can calculate your payment here. If you didn't have direct deposit set up with the IRS, your payments were likely sent as paper checks. But 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 an incorrect 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've been sent to your old address, potentially causing a delay as you wait for your check to be rerouted. You can still update your mailing address using the Child Tax Credit Update Portal to make sure your payment is sent to the right place.  

2. So you can finally get that missing stimulus check 

Stimulus checks went out last year as fresh payments, or plus-up payments if the IRS owed you more than it already paid. These payments were sent through the end of 2021. Some states even sent more stimulus checks that you wouldn't have received 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. But even if you do have a direct deposit account on file with the government, you may still 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 this year, if it comes down to that.

3. So you can get last year's tax refund

If you filed your taxes late last year and you're expecting your tax refund to arrive in the mail, make sure the information you entered when you filed your tax return is correct. 

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.

4. So you can receive this year's tax return and refund

Tax season starts Jan. 24 and if you plan to move after you submit your taxes, make sure you update your information in the system. This will prevent any errors or delays with your tax refund. 

If you decided to opt out of your child tax credit payments in 2021, they'll be tied to your tax refund this year. 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 as a tax break this year for any child care expenses you paid last year.

How to update your address with the IRS

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 2021 tax return. 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 file your taxes and don'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 with the 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 usps.com/move.

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 $1.10 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 how to claim up to $16,000 for child care expenses. Also, here's where to file your tax return for free.