I received my US federal tax return earlier this month. When I first looked at the check, I noticed it had a % symbol, followed by my mother's name on the line below the one with my name. It looks like:

AUSTIN TX 99999 9999

I thought this was odd, so I called my mother that evening, and she agreed that It was strange. I didn't think much of it until I tried to cash the check at Walmart, and they said I needed her present to do so.

Quick facts:

  • We both have the same mailing address
  • I filed as 'single' (I know this for a fact)
  • I received, and cashed without incident, my federal return last year (I do not recall if my mother's name was on the check).
  • My mother has not filed her federal taxes this year.
  • She claims (though I have no 1st hand materials by which to verify) that she did not claim me as a dependent last year.

My questions are as follows:

  • What can I do to get this check cashed?

Walmart wants her there in person with photo ID. We do not get along and only speak on occasion however, so this seems unlikely. I am going to take it to a bank tomorrow to open an account with and see if they take it.

  • Why?

I don't expect any IRS employees on this forum, but any info on what this means, how this happened, and/or how to prevent it would be greatly appreciated.

  • 7
    Just to clarify, it appears that what you got is a tax REFUND. The tax return is the form(s) you send in - F1040 and so on.
    – jamesqf
    Commented Feb 24, 2015 at 3:51
  • How does your mom pay for her living expenses if she didn't have any income? I have a guess here, but please provide some more info...
    – littleadv
    Commented Feb 24, 2015 at 4:44
  • BTW: the bank won't take it without your mom present.
    – littleadv
    Commented Feb 24, 2015 at 4:45
  • 6
    @BenMiller: Yes. On typewriters, the % key was, in fact, often used as a "ligature" for c/o and I presume that's the intent here.
    – keshlam
    Commented May 27, 2015 at 1:23
  • Had the same thing happen with my son. He dose not have a bank account and therefore went to Walmart. They made my husband come in even though I told them the % sign only meant "in care of."
    – user40957
    Commented Apr 11, 2016 at 17:11

2 Answers 2


The percent sign stands for "C/O", which means "Care Of." Care Of is just a part of a mailing address when you are addressing a letter to someone at someone else's house. With windowed envelopes, the entire mailing address is printed on the face of the check.

This is not a 2 party check; your mother's name is a part of your address. Try a real bank instead of Walmart, and see what they say. You should be able to cash it without your mother's cooperation.


My son received his check today and between his name and his father's name is a "%" symbol. I called our credit union today and they said our son only need be present to cash and/or deposit it. We did claim our son as a dependent so I'm figuring that is why that symbol is there. That or because my husband filled out the forms and filed them.

  • 2
    Probably the latter.
    – keshlam
    Commented Jun 25, 2015 at 23:57

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