COVID-19 stimulus payments have already been distributed to millions of Americans, but the IRS is still sending out money. The payments, worth as much as $1,200 for adults and an additional $500 per dependent child, are either being directly deposited or mailed to eligible Americans. 

Direct deposit is a much faster method of receiving the money, but it's available only if the IRS has your bank account on file. And it has now announced that today -- Wednesday, May 13 -- is the last day most people can provide their direct-deposit information if they haven't already done so. 

Internal Revenue Service building.

Image source: Getty Images.

Who needs to provide direct deposit information?

The IRS has direct-deposit details for those who filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return and gave their bank information to receive a refund.

The IRS also obtained info from Social Security and the Department of Veterans Affairs so those receiving veterans benefits, railroad retirement benefits, or Social Security benefits will get their payments via the same method those benefits are distributed. 

But if you don't get any of those benefits, didn't file a recent tax return, or didn't get a refund directly deposited, you'll need to let the IRS know what bank account to put your money into. And the deadline to do that is today at noon EDT. 

How can you provide direct deposit details?

To give the IRS your direct deposit information, visit its online Economic Impact Payment page and select "Get my payment." 

You'll need to provide your identifying information, including your Social Security number, as well as your bank account number and your bank's routing number. You can obtain these last two details by logging into your bank account online or by looking at a paper check. 

You can update your direct-deposit information only if your payment hasn't yet been processed. For some people, including most Social Security benefit recipients, it will be too late because your money has already been sent out. 

You can also use the online tool only if the IRS doesn't already have valid bank details on file. If you provided direct-deposit information with a past tax return, you cannot change your bank account information using the online form because of fraud concerns. The money will be sent to the account already on file. If the account is closed, the IRS will get notification of this and send you a paper check eventually.

Why it's worth acting by today's deadline

Acting by noon today is important because if the IRS doesn't have your bank details, it will have to mail you a check. It takes time for the IRS to do that, and it has indicated it will begin working on processing the last batch of paper payments by the end of May or mid-June. Once they are processed, you could be waiting until the end of June or even the beginning of July for a stimulus payment to come via mail. 

This money could help you to pay bills during the coronavirus crisis or allow you to invest in bargain stocks as the pandemic causes chaos in the markets. So you don't want to wait longer than necessary to get it.