Need to split your tax refund check? Here's how.

Last updated:

January 19, 2024

With the start of the new year many of us have begun to make resolutions to lose weight, get healthy, or save money.  Each resolution takes commitment but you can jump start your savings efforts by splitting your refund.  This allows you to split your refund into different buckets such as one for spending on things today and another bucket for your savings goal.

So how do you get started?

Use Form 8888 to split your refund check

When you are ready to submit your return, choose direct deposit as your refund method. Here you will be able to choose to file Form 8888 and add up to 3 bank accounts of your choice. If you are filing online, you should see the option to add your bank accounts before you submit your tax return.

These bank accounts can be retirement accounts, college savings, a health savings account, a checking, or savings account.  You will need the routing number and account number for each account.  These accounts must be able to accept direct deposit and have either your name or your spouse’s name on the account. The accounts can also be jointly held with both of your names on there.  

You will need to decide on the amounts to put into each account.  The total amount will need to add up to the full amount of your refund.  It might look like this with a refund of $6,000:

Does the order of the list accounts matter?

Yes! Be careful of the order you list the accounts.  

If there are any delays to processing your return, the IRS will deposit your refund into only the first account listed on the form 8888.  

If the IRS finds an error on your tax return that leads you to have a bigger refund than you have on your return, the extra money will go to the last account you list.  In our example that would be the Savings Goal Account.  However, if the error leads you to have a smaller refund than you calculated, the IRS will decrease the amount from the last account listed on your form 8888.  If necessary, the IRS will decrease the amounts working from the bottom of your list upward until the decrease is accounted for.  In our example this would be if the IRS first took from the Savings Goal Account then the Savings Account and then the Checking Account.

This will also happen if your refund is taken for past-due taxes or for other garnishments.

As with any time you put in bank account information, make sure that your account numbers are correct.  The IRS states in their instructions that the IRS is not responsible for a lost refund if you enter the wrong account information.