IRS Looking for Taxpayers to Claim Refund Checks

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced on Tuesday that it is looking for more than 84,000 taxpayers to pick up their refunds. Checks totaling $73 million have been returned to the IRS as undeliverable, in most cases because the taxpayer has moved, the Agency said.

The average unclaimed refund is $871.

Taxpayers who have not yet received their refunds may call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 or visit the IRS Web site. Click on “Where’s My Refund” MarketWatch suggests. Hurricane Katrina may have caused some refund checks to go astray, according to the Associated Press, and the IRS has set up a special number, 1-866-562-5227 for hurricane victims to track down a missing refund.

Anyone who does not contact the IRS this year about a missing refund will receive the refund next year after filing a tax return. The IRS computer system will note the taxpayer’s new address and automatically generate a check, the AP says.

The number of unclaimed refunds is down this year, because more taxpayers are asking for direct deposit of their refunds into their bank accounts IRS spokesman Anthony Burke said, according to MarketWatch. More than 52 million individuals chose Direct Deposit last year, which the IRS says protects against theft or lost checks as well as changes of address.

"Our goal is to get this money back in the hands of the people it belongs to,” says IRS Commissioner Mark Everson, according to the AP, and local media throughout the country are trying to help out. In Kansas, where $280,000 in undelivered checks were returned, WIBW.com lists the names of the people owed money. Colorado’s Rocky Mountain News has also published a list, as has the Des Moines Register. The Iowa Department of Revenue was checking to see how many state taxpayers had not claimed refunds in Iowa, the Register said.

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