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If you moved recently, here's why you should tell the IRS, not just USPS

You could be missing out on some money if the IRS doesn't have your most recent address on file. We'll tell you how to update your information.

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

Sarah Tew/CNET

Did you move within the last year or are you planning on changing your address soon? If so, there's one more item to add to your to-do list: Update your address with both the IRS and USPS. We'll explain why forgetting to do this can potentially cause you to miss out on thousands of dollars -- and we'll walk you through how to do it.

Receiving your mail at your new residence is one important reason to change your address -- but there are several other reasons not to delay. The expanded child tax credit and stimulus check payments this year are two important reasons. Since not all post offices forward government checks, you'll need to notify both the USPS and the IRS if you've relocated.

Just a heads up: Tax Day is May 17, leaving you with one week to file before the deadline and to claim this IRS tax refund money from 2017 before it disappears forever. We can also tell you what we know about a fourth stimulus checkhow to get a $50 discount on your internet bill and how to get $16,000 back in child care expenses. This story was recently updated. 

Reason No. 1: Child tax credit payments begin in July 

The new child tax credit payments will start going out to those who are eligible in July and arrive monthly through December (and then again next spring) -- calculate your payment here. If you don't have direct deposit set up with the IRS, your payments will likely arrive as paper checks.

However, if you've moved recently and you haven't updated your information with the IRS or USPS, it's likely your check could wind up at your old address, potentially causing a delay as you wait for your check to be rerouted. But you'll soon be able to update any incorrect information when the IRS opens a portal designed specifically for the revised child tax credit -- it's expected to open by July.

Reason No. 2: Stimulus payments -- especially if you're waiting on a paper check or EIP card

Stimulus checks are still going out as fresh payments and plus-up payments, if the IRS owes you more than it already paid. 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. So you need to make sure that doesn't go to an old address. 

Also, 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.

Reason No. 3: Your tax refund, if it's coming by mail

Tax Day is May 17, which is coming up. If 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. 

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.

People who need more time can file a tax extension to Oct. 15, which would also give you more time to file a change-of-address form if you're expecting a refund by mail.

Reason No. 4: Preparing for 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, 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 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 $1.05 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.