Tax Resources
State And Federal

Federal Form 8888 Instructions

Future Developments

Information about any future developments affecting Form 8888 (such as legislation enacted after we release it) will be posted on www.irs.gov/form8888.

General Instructions

CAUTION. Do not request a deposit of your refund to an account that is not in your name, such as your tax return preparer's account.

Purpose of Form

Use Form 8888 if:

  • You want us to directly deposit your refund (or part of it) to either two or three accounts at a bank or other financial institution (such as a mutual fund, brokerage firm, or credit union) in the United States, or
  • You want to use at least part of your refund to buy up to $5,000 in paper series I savings bonds.

An account can be a checking, savings, or other account such as an individual retirement arrangement (IRA), health savings account (HSA), Archer MSA, Coverdell education savings account (ESA), or TreasuryDirect® online account.

You cannot have your refund deposited into more than one account or buy paper series I savings bonds if you file Form 8379, Injured Spouse Allocation.

Deposit of refund to only one account. If you want your refund deposited to only one account, do not complete this form. Instead, request direct deposit on your tax return.

Why Use Direct Deposit?

  • You get your refund faster by direct deposit than you do by check.
  • Payment is more secure. There is no check that can get lost or stolen.
  • It is more convenient. You do not have to make a trip to the bank to deposit your check.
  • It saves tax dollars because it costs the government less.

IRA

You can have your refund (or part of it) directly deposited to a traditional IRA, Roth IRA, or SEP-IRA, but not a SIMPLE IRA. You must establish the IRA at a bank or other eligible financial institution before you request direct deposit. Make sure your direct deposit will be accepted. You must also notify the trustee or custodian of your account of the year to which the deposit is to be applied (unless the trustee or custodian will not accept a deposit for 2014). If you do not, the trustee or custodian can assume the deposit is for the year during which you are filing your return. For example, if you file your 2014 return during 2015 and do not notify the trustee or custodian in advance, the trustee or custodian can assume the deposit to your IRA in 2015 is for 2015. If you designate your deposit to be for 2014, you must verify that the deposit was actually made to the account by the due date of the return (without regard to extensions). If the deposit is not made by that date, the deposit is not an IRA contribution for 2014. In that case, you must file an amended 2014 return and reduce any IRA deduction and any retirement savings contributions credit you claimed.

CAUTION. You and your spouse, if filing jointly, each may be able to contribute up to $5,500 ($6,500 if age 50 or older at the end of 2014) to a traditional IRA or Roth IRA for 2014. You may owe a penalty if your contributions exceed these limits, and these limits may be reduced depending on your compensation. For more information on IRA contributions, see Pub. 590-A. If the limits on IRA contributions change for 2015, Pub. 590-A will have the new 2015 limits.

TreasuryDirect® Account

You can request a deposit of your refund (or part of it) to a TreasuryDirect® online account to buy U.S. Treasury marketable securities and savings bonds. For more information, go to www.treasurydirect.gov.

U.S. Series I Savings Bonds

You can request that your refund (or part of it) be used to buy up to $5,000 in paper series I savings bonds. You do not need a TreasuryDirect® account to do this. See the instructions under Part II for details.

Specific Instructions

Part I

TIP. If you are filing Form 8888 only to buy paper series I savings bonds, skip Part I and go to Part II.

CAUTION. If you file a joint return and complete Form 8888, your spouse may get at least part of the refund.

Lines 1a, 2a, and 3a

Enter the portion of your refund you want directly deposited to each account. Each deposit must be at least $1.

Your entire deposit may be deposited in one account. If there are any delays in the processing of your return by the IRS, your entire refund will be deposited in the first account listed on Form 8888. Make sure the first account you list on Form 8888 is an account you would want the entire refund deposited in if this happens.

Lines 1b, 2b, and 3b

The routing number must be nine digits. The first two digits must be 01 through 12 or 21 through 32. On the sample check below, the routing number is 250250025. Tony and Jennifer Maple would use that routing number unless their financial institution instructed them to use a different routing number for direct deposits.

Ask your financial institution for the correct routing number to enter if:

  • The routing number on a deposit slip is different from the routing number on your checks,
  • Your deposit is to a savings account that does not allow you to write checks, or
  • Your checks state they are payable through a financial institution different from the one at which you have your account.

Lines 1c, 2c, and 3c

Check the appropriate box for the type of account. Do not check more than one box for each line. If your deposit is to an account such as an IRA, HSA, brokerage account, or other similar account, ask your financial institution whether you should check the "Checking" or "Savings" box. If your deposit is to a TreasuryDirect® online account, check the "Savings" box. You must check the correct box to ensure your deposit is accepted.

Lines 1d, 2d, and 3d

The account number can be up to 17 characters (both numbers and letters). Include hyphens but omit spaces and special symbols. Enter the number from left to right and leave any unused boxes blank. On the sample check in these instructions, the account number is 20202086. Do not include the check number.

Reasons Your Direct Deposit Request May Be Rejected

If either of the following apply, your direct deposit request will be rejected and a check will be sent instead.

  • Your financial institution(s) will not allow a joint refund to be deposited to an individual account. The IRS is not responsible if a financial institution rejects a direct deposit.
  • You file your 2014 return after December 31, 2015.

CAUTION. The IRS is not responsible for a lost refund if you enter the wrong account information. Check with your financial institution to get the correct routing and account numbers and to make sure your direct deposit will be accepted.

Changes in Refund Due to Math Errors or Refund Offsets

The rules below explain how your direct deposits may be adjusted.

Math Errors

The following rules apply if your refund is increased or decreased due to a math error.

Refund increased. If you made an error on your return and the amount of your refund is increased, the additional amount will be deposited to the last account listed. If you asked that your refund be split among three accounts, any increase will be deposited to the account on line 3. If you asked that your refund be split among two accounts, any increase will be deposited to the account on line 2.

Example. Your return shows a refund of $300 and you ask that the refund be split among three accounts with $100 in each account. Due to an error on the return, your refund is increased to $350. The additional $50 will be added to the deposit to the account listed on line 3.

Refund decreased. If you made an error on your return and the amount of your refund is decreased, the decrease will be taken first from any deposit to an account on line 3, next from the deposit to the account on line 2, and finally from the deposit to the account on line 1.

Example. Your return shows a refund of $300, and you ask that the refund be split among three accounts with $100 in each account. Due to an error on your return, your refund is decreased by $150. You will not receive the $100 you asked us to deposit to the account on line 3, and the deposit to the account on line 2 will be reduced by $50.

Note. If you appeal the math error and your appeal is upheld, the resulting refund will be deposited to the account on line 1.

Refund Offset

The following rules apply if your refund is offset (used) to pay past-due federal tax or certain other debts.

Past-due federal tax. If you owe past- due federal tax and your refund is offset by the IRS to pay the tax, the past-due amount will be deducted first from any deposit to an account on line 3, next from the deposit to the account on line 2, and finally from the deposit to the account on line 1.

Other offsets. If you owe other past-due amounts (such as state income tax, child support, spousal support, or certain federal nontax debts, such as student loans) subject to offset by the Treasury Department's Bureau of the Fiscal Service, the past-due amounts will be deducted first from the deposit to the account with the lowest routing number. Any remaining amount due will be deducted from the deposit to the account with the next lowest routing number and then from the deposit to the account with the highest routing number.

CAUTION. If the deposit to one or more of your accounts is changed due to a math error or refund offset, and that account is subject to contribution limits, such as an IRA, HSA, Archer MSA, or Coverdell ESA, or the deposit was deducted as a contribution to a tax-favored account on your tax return, you may need to correct your contribution or file an amended return.

Example. You deduct $1,000 on your 2014 tax return for an IRA contribution. The contribution is to be made from a direct deposit of your 2014 refund. Due to an offset by the FMS, the direct deposit is not made to your IRA. You need to correct your contribution by contributing $1,000 to the IRA from another source by the due date of your return (determined without regard to any extension) or file an amended return without the IRA deduction.

Part II

You may request up to three different savings bond registrations. However, each registration must be a multiple of$50, and the total of lines 4, 5a, and 6a cannot be more than $5,000 (or your refund amount, whichever is smaller).

Line 4

TIP. You can skip line 4 if you want to buy bonds for someone other than yourself(and your spouse, if filing jointly).

Enter the portion of your refund you want to use to buy bonds for yourself (and your spouse, if filing jointly). These bonds will be registered in the name(s) shown on your return.

Lines 5a and 6a

Enter the portion of your refund you want to use to buy bonds for yourself, your spouse, or someone else. This amount must be a multiple of $50.

Lines 5b and 6b

Enter the owner's name for this bond registration. This can be you, your spouse, or someone else. However, enter only one name. Enter the first name followed by the last name and place one space in between them. Use the person's given name and do not use nicknames. Use only letters and print clearly. Do not use special symbols.

Lines 5c and 6c

If you want to add a co-owner or beneficiary to this registration, enter their name. This can be you, your spouse, or someone else. However, enter only one name. Enter the first name followed by the last name and place one space in between them. Use the person's given name and do not use nicknames. Use only letters and print clearly. Do not use special symbols.

If this is a beneficiary designation, also check the box on line 5c or 6c. Otherwise, co-ownership will be assumed.

If you complete line 5 or 6, you are consenting to have the bonds issued using the following two-step process.

  1. The bonds will be issued in electronic form in your name (and your spouse's name if filing jointly). You will not receive these bonds or any notice regarding this part of the process.
  2. The bonds will be immediately reissued in the names you have requested and mailed to you.

If you have determined that the IRS processed your refund and placed the order for your bonds, you can contact the Treasury Retail Securities site at 1-800-553-2663 to ask about the status of your bonds.

When your bonds will not be issued. Your bonds will not be issued if any of the following apply.

  • The bond request is not a multiple of $50.
  • You enter more than one name on line 5b, 5c, 6b, or 6c.
  • Your refund is decreased because of a math error.
  • Your refund is offset for any reason.

Instead, your entire refund will be sent to you in the form of a check.

Math errors that increase your refund. If you made an error on your return and the amount of your refund is increased, the additional amount will be sent to you in the form of a check. However, if you requested direct deposit in Part I, the rules under Changes in Refund Due to Math Errors or Refund Offsets will apply.

Part III

Line 7

If any portion of your refund remains after completing Parts I and II, you can request this portion be sent to you in the form of a check. Enter the amount on line 7 that you would like to be sent by check.

Part IV

Line 8

The total on line 8 must equal the total amount of the refund shown on your tax return. It must also equal the total of the amounts on lines 1a, 2a, 3a, 4, 5a, 6a, and 7. If the total on line 8 is different, a check will be sent instead.

CAUTION. Do not file a Form 8888 on which you have crossed out or whited out any numbers or letters. If you do, the IRS will reject your allocation of refund and savings bond purchases, and send you a check instead.