Wrong addresses cause many to miss out on IRS rebate checks

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."

Stimulus Checks

Taxpayers who may be due a stimulus check are encouraged to update their addresses with the IRS by November 28, 2008. By law, economic stimulus checks must be sent out by December 31 of this year. The undeliverable economic stimulus checks average $583.

The IRS provides a Where's My Stimulus Payment? service on its Web site where taxpayers can check the status of a stimulus check and receive instructions on how to update addresses. Taxpayers can also call the IRS at 866-234-2942 to provide change of address information.

Regular Refunds

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 use the IRS's "Where's my refund?" service online to check the status of refunds. The taxpayer must submit his or her social security number, filing status, and amount of refund shown on the 2007 income tax 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 a mailing address. 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.

For Most People

The IRS reports that 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.

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