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Moved? 3 reasons you need to tell the IRS and USPS, including your next stimulus check

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 possibly on the way soon, make sure you're set up to receive them.

Sarah Tew/CNET

If you've moved recently, or are planning to change your address soon, you'll need to inform the USPS and IRS as soon as possible (step by step details below). Filing a change of address form is important for receiving mail at your new residence regardless, but there are additional reasons, too, that have to do with your taxes and stimulus checks.

This advice -- which we'll spell out below -- applies to people who are waiting for missing stimulus money from their first and second payments, as well as people who anticipate receiving a third stimulus check. It also applies to people waiting for their tax refund. Even if you have direct deposit already set up with the IRS, it's important your correct address is on file with both institutions.

Currently, Congress is moving fast to pass a third stimulus check of up to $1,400 per person. If it gets approved, you'll want your correct address on file to receive important documents, in addition to any money that could come your way (as you'll see, direct deposit isn't guaranteed). This story was recently updated with new information.

3 extra 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

First, the process to claim any missing stimulus money is tied up into 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. You'll need to make sure that doesn't go to your old address. 

Second, whether or not you have a direct deposit account on file, it's possible you may receive the next stimulus check in a paper check or as an EIP card. 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 check. This IRS notice will be your ticket to settling any errors or submitting a claim for missing money during tax season 2022, if it comes down to that.

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

When you first move, it's important to forward your mail so you never miss an important document -- like a stimulus check. Here's how to do it.

1. In a browser window, visit usps.com/move.

2. Fill out the form with your contact information, the date you'd like the mail to start forwarding and 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 your 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's 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 notes that it can take anywhere from three business days to two weeks before you start receiving your forwarded mail.

IRS: How to inform them 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 April 15 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 notify the IRS in writing at "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 about stimulus checks, here's what the 2021 stimulus bill could contain, three reasons to sign up for direct deposit when you file your 2020 taxes and when a new stimulus check could arrive.