IRS Seeks to Return $266 Million in Undeliverable Refunds And Economic Stimulus Payments to Taxpayers
IR-2008-123, Oct. 23, 2008
WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service is looking for taxpayers who are missing more than 279,000 economic stimulus checks totaling about $163 million and more than 104,000 regular refund checks totaling about $103 million that were returned by the U.S. Postal Service due to mailing address errors.
“People across the country are missing tax refunds and stimulus checks. We want to get this money into the hands of taxpayers where it belongs,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. “We are committed to making the process as easy as possible for taxpayers to update their addresses with the IRS and get their checks.”
All a taxpayer has to do is update his or her address once. The IRS will then send out all checks due.
It is crucial that taxpayers who may be due a stimulus check update their addresses with the IRS by Nov. 28, 2008. By law, economic stimulus checks must be sent out by Dec. 31 of this year. The undeliverable economic stimulus checks average $583.
The Where’s My Stimulus Payment? tool (Note: no longer available) on this Web site is the quickest and easiest way for a taxpayer to check the status of a stimulus check and receive instructions on how to update his or her address. Taxpayers without internet access should call 1-866-234-2942.
The regular refund checks that were returned to the IRS average $988. These checks are resent as soon as taxpayers update their address.
Taxpayers can update their addresses with the “Where’s My Refund?” tool on this Web site. It enables taxpayers to check the status of their refunds. A taxpayer must submit his or her social security number, filing status and amount of refund shown on their 2007 return. The tool will provide the status of their refund and in some cases provide instructions on how to resolve delivery problems.
Taxpayers checking on a refund over the phone will be given instructions on how to update their addresses. Taxpayers can access a telephone version of “Where’s My Refund?” by calling 1-800-829-1954.
Taxpayers not sure of which type of check they may be due should check on a potential economic stimulus check first because of the looming deadline. See instructions above.
For Most People
The vast majority of checks mailed out by the IRS reach their rightful owner every year. Only a very small percent are returned by the U.S. Postal Service as undeliverable.
Through September 2008, the government distributed 116 million economic stimulus payments with only about 279,000 checks being undeliverable. Meanwhile, the IRS has distributed more than 105 million regular refunds this year with only about 104,000 being undeliverable. In both cases, well under one percent of refunds or stimulus checks were undeliverable.
Avoiding Future Problems
The IRS encourages taxpayers to choose direct deposit when they file their return because it puts an end to lost, stolen or undeliverable checks. Taxpayers can receive refunds directly into personal checking or savings accounts. Direct deposit is available for filers of both paper and electronic returns.
The IRS also encourages taxpayers to file their tax returns electronically because e-file eliminates the risk of lost paper returns. E-file also reduces errors and speeds up refunds.