Every year, tens of millions of Americans scramble to gather up their W-2’s and any other related documentation in order to file their taxes, with most receiving a refund. Many people never get that refund. Whether it’s due to moving, a bad or illegible address on the tax form, or simple delivery error, millions of dollars in lost refund checks aren’t delivered to their rightful owners. If you’ve filed your taxes and waited, and waited, and never received it, you may have even forgotten that it was owed to you. Or, you may have even thought that you didn’t earn enough to file and simply didn’t Here are two scenarios and what you should do in either case to see whether you are owed money by the IRS.
Refund Was Undeliverable
According to the IRS Summertime Tax Tip, Does the IRS Owe You Money, refund checks are mailed to your last known place of address (2010). If you moved after you filed for your tax refund, and didn’t follow the proper bureaucratic channels by filing Form 8822, the post office returned your tax refund check to the IRS. You can check on the status of your tax refund at any time by using the IRS’s Where’s My Refund tool, and enter your social security number, filing status, and expected refund amount (2010). You will then be directed to the status of your refund and how to go about claiming it if it was returned undeliverable. If you don’t have access to the Internet, you can call the IRS help line at 1-800-829-1040 for assistance (IRS Summertime Tax Tip, 2010).
Refund Wasn’t Claimed
Maybe you just didn’t make enough to be bothered to file. According to the IRS’s article Do You Need to File A Federal Income Tax Return, If you earned less than $9,350 in 2009 (2009), you might have seen that you aren’t required to file a tax return and cheered for joy at being able to forget about filing a tax return for that year. But hold on a second, did you have a job at all? Did you have income taxes withheld from your paycheck? You most likely did, unless you distinctly remember checking the box when filling out your W-4 saying you are exempt from income tax withholding. If this is you, then you’ve been giving Uncle Sam a no interest loan. How generous of you! Seriously though, if you want that money back, you can file a return at any time, as long as three years haven’t passed from the original due date of the return. As that point, your tax refund becomes the property of the US Government (IRS Summertime Tax Tip, 2010). To claim it, simply print out the appropriate forms from the IRS website, for the year(s) you want money for and send them in.
Getting your missing or forgotten tax refund is easy, if you just know where to look!
IRS Summertime Tax Tip 2010-13. (2010). Does the IRS Owe You Money? IRS.
Refund Status. (2010). Where’s My Refund? IRS.
IRS Individuals. (2009). Do You Need to file a Federal Income Tax Return? IRS.