When preparing a personal check to be mailed to the department of revenue of a U.S. state to pay taxes owed, is it advisable/permissible to cross the check, or mark the check as "account payee only"? Will the department of revenue accept crossed or account payee checks?

  • 4
    Crossed checks are not common in the US. I'd never heard of them until a year or so ago, here in another question. – mkennedy Feb 15 '17 at 18:27
  • First find out if your bank will honor that. But, no, most folks just rely on normal check processing. – keshlam Feb 15 '17 at 19:44
  • I believe this is a duplicate in that the answer is the same - US banks don't do the whole "crossing of cheques" practice. You just write it out to the person/entity requested (such as the U.S. Treasury, or your State Department of Revenue, etc) and that's it, and so it doesn't matter who you are paying in the US. – BrianH Feb 15 '17 at 21:13
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    Probably relevant en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crossing_of_cheques – user2752467 Feb 15 '17 at 23:20

I've never heard of the term "cross a check". From looking online, it appears to mostly be a thing done in other countries.

A regular check should work just fine. Government processing of check payments (much like processing of check payments at other large companies) should largely be a streamlined process, with hardly any people involved. Any people involved would just be scanning in the digital image of the check, and are only needed to the extent that opening the envelope and scanning the check aren't yet automated by that particular payee. Once it's scanned, it's all handled by computer. As long as the routing number, account number, and amount are there and legible, it'll get processed. One can find anecdotes aplenty of checks made out to the wrong payee, or not signed, or whatever, and by and large they just get processed anyway unless (1) a human happens to notice, (2) it's for a really large amount and gets extra scrutiny, or (3) the customer complains about something that looks like it might be fraudulent and it gets investigated.

You could check with your bank or call up your state's Department of Revenue and see if they might prefer you to "cross the check" as some sort of attempt to mitigate some sort of fraud, but (1) it's unlikely that the first person you talk to will have any idea what you're talking about, and (2) it's unlikely to actually mitigate whatever kind of fraud you're thinking might happen. Any lines on a check would probably just be thought to be artifacts on the check scan image, anyway. I just wouldn't bother doing anything special over any other payment. (Actually, I'd be likely to see if I can pay the tax bill online on the state's website rather than use a check.)

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