It’s winter and the holidays are in the air. It’s also time to make every dollar stretch given the extra expenses. Have you checked whether the IRS owes you money? It’s an odd question and most people would respond with surprised look, but the fact is the IRS is still working to distribute almost $165 million in tax refunds still owed to people. Approximately 111,900 taxpayers still have money owed to them as of 2010. The reason has predominantly been that the mailing address file was wrong or not available.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is not in the business of holding onto tax refund money, despite what the movies may make the agency out to be. If there is a refund owed, the IRS is geared to return the funds once the party is verified and a mailing address is confirmed. And the amount owed is increasing. As more folks are moving or relocating, more mail is getting lost or sent to defunct addresses. $1,471 on average is now owed, which is an increase over the $1,148 owed on average in 2009.
The process for getting money owed is easy. If you have an Internet access and a computer you can go to the IRS website at IRS.gov and click on the link, “Where’s My Refund?”. This will bring you to an IRS web page that allows you to check refund status by submitting you identification data. Then the refund, if available, will be flagged and you can submit information to resolve the delivery issue to get you check.
If, on the other hand, you don’t have computer access, you can call the IRS at 1-800-829-1954 to essentially make the same verification on the phone and to provide your correct mailing address.
All of the above said, taxpayers can easily avoid mailing problems by using direct deposit instead. Both Internet tax filing and paper filing give the option to choose direct deposit and provide a bank account number for the transfer. Not only does this avoid the problem of waiting for your refund to be mailed, it’s faster. Electronic tax filing gets processed within two weeks on average versus up to three months using a paper approach.
One issue to note: the IRS is not bound to inform people proactively that money is owed to them. While the Agency makes services available to confirm funds that can be sent, the IRS has no obligation to send out emails or postcards detailing this fact. The burden is on the taxpayer to check. So if you’re getting a note or email saying otherwise, it’s very likely a scam from a criminal. Don’t respond to any such notice with any information whatsoever.