Simon Says: How to Deposit a Check Addressed to Two Payees

Simon Zhen

By , Staff Writer
Posted on Wed May 15, 2013, Last Updated on Fri Sep 19, 2014

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Q: My wife and I filed our tax returns jointly and we received a tax refund check that was written out to both our names. We do not yet have a joint bank account. Is it possible to deposit the tax refund check into one of our own checking accounts?

- Daniel P.

Simon Says: How to Deposit a Check Addressed to Two Payees

David Goehring / Flickr source

A: With most checks written to two people or more, it’s important to look at what the check writer put down on the “Pay to the order of” line. There is a major difference between “Party A and Party B” and “Party A or Party B.”

Difference between “and” and “or”

If the check states that the funds are paid to either party, then either of you can deposit the check in your individual bank accounts.

If the check states that the funds are paid to you and another party, then the check deposit could become much more of a hassle if you do not have a joint bank account with the other party.

According to Section-110(d) of the Uniform Commercial Code, if a check payable to two or more people is ambiguous in terms of the payee(s), any of the stated payees can deposit the check into their individual accounts.

In every case, all other payees must endorse the check with their signatures.

Bank regulations

Since refund checks from joint tax returns are paid out to both filers, you’ll have to follow your bank’s policy on check deposits that contain multiple payees (each bank has its own policy). Banks must account for the risk involved in the possibility that a check was written out to multiple individuals and one of the individuals attempt to deposit all the funds into his or her own account.

Some banks can be very strict. For instance, Bank of America requires that both people must have their names on the account that receives a check with two payees. Popular online bank Ally Bank has the same policy.

Chase and Wells Fargo requires that, if you want to deposit a check that is payable to two individuals, both payees must go to a branch in person and present government identification to verify the signatures on the back of the check.

Other banks are rather lenient. Citibank and online bank Capital One 360 simply required that checks are properly endorsed by all payees. They don’t stipulate that all payees must provide identification or maintain joint accounts.

What you should do

It would be best to call your bank ahead before you deposit the check. Also, do not deposit the check through an ATM and hope that the bank will accept it. If the bank finds that the check deposit was in violation of its policies, it may become much more of a hassle to get the situation cleared up.

In most cases, you would be better off asking the payer to write two separate checks.

For checks issued by government agencies, you’d have to contact them for a reissued check. For tax refunds, you can call the IRS at (800) 829-1040 and ask for a new check.


Post a Comment

  • Ted Bear

    Your answer is very generic when the question was very specific. Not helpful. How would you get the US Government to write a new check?

    • Simon Zhen

      Ted, thanks for pointing that out.

      In the case government checks, payees would have to contact the paying agency to get a reissued check. I’ve updated the story with a more specific response.

  • KJD Mom

    when if the 2 payees are not related? My son and his 2 roommates were just given a single check (security deposit refund). 1 ex-roommate lives in Hawaii, the other 2 in Maryland. How can they obtain a endorsement from the Hawaii ex-roommate? They don’t want to mail the check around. Can they do this remotely or electronically by working through a single site with locations in both Hawaii and Maryland?

    • Krisz

      same here, this is the stupidest thing what I ever met. my rommi moved out from florida and in the bank they told me he have to be here in person the signature is not enough. now I have a 1000 dollar check and cannot do shit. apartment company don’t want to do for me anything!

  • dees

    I had a cashier check from Wells payable to myself and my contractor. I endorsed it as did my contractor- I received a copy of his drivers license and his contractor license. I presented it for deposit to my account and Citibank rejected it saying I could not deposit it but the contractor had to. They further indicated it was a federal law and not a bank law. I asked them to provide me with the federal law indicating such and I have yet to get a reply. Is this true and where is Federal law to document such policy

  • Queen

    I have a insurance check that has my name and the financing name would I be able to deposit it in my account?

    • Simon Zhen

      Queen, I’m not too sure what you mean by “financing name,” but you’d have to look at whether it says it is payable to X “and” Y, or X “or” Y. If it says “or,” you shouldn’t have a problem depositing it yourself. If it says “and,” you may have to ask for a reissued check.