IRS Seeks to Return $266 Million in Undeliverable Refunds And Economic Stimulus Payments to Taxpayers

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.”

IRS Seeks to Return $266 Million in Undeliverable Refunds And Economic Stimulus Payments to Taxpayers

All a taxpayer has to do is update his or her address once. The IRS will then send out all checks due.

Stimulus Checks

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 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.

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 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.

Unsure?

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.

Scammers Use e-Mail, Fax to Pose as IRS

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service cautions taxpayers to be on the lookout for a new wave of scams using the IRS name in identity theft e-mails, or phishing, that have circulated during the last two months.
In May and June alone, taxpayers reported almost 700 separate phishing incidents to the IRS. In 2008 so far, taxpayers have reported about 1,600 phishing incidents to the IRS.
“Taxpayers should take steps to keep their personal information out of the hands of identity thieves,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. “That includes not falling for any of the phony e-mails or faxes now in circulation pretending to come from the IRS.”
The most common scams involve tax refunds and, this year, economic stimulus payments.
Although most of these scams consist of e-mails requesting detailed personal information, the IRS generally does not send e-mails to taxpayers, does not discuss tax account matters with taxpayers in e-mails, and does not request security-related personal information, such as PIN numbers, from taxpayers.

 

Scammers Use e-Mail, Fax to Pose as IRS

Refund e-Mail Scam
There are several variations of the refund scam, in which an e-mail claiming to come from the IRS falsely informs the recipient that he or she is eligible for a tax refund for a specific amount. The bogus e-mail instructs the recipient to click on a link to access a refund claim form. The form requests personal information that the scammers can use to access the e-mail recipient’s bank or credit card account.
This notification is phony. The IRS does not send unsolicited e-mail about tax account matters to taxpayers.
Filing a tax return is the only way to apply for a tax refund; there is no separate application form. Taxpayers who wish to find out if they are due a refund from their last annual tax return filing may use the “Where’s My Refund?” interactive application on the IRS Web site at IRS.gov, the only official IRS Web site.

 

Economic Stimulus Payments Scam


In this scam, a taxpayer receives an e-mail pretending to come from the IRS which tells the recipient he or she is eligible for an economic stimulus payment. The message recommends direct deposit into the taxpayer’s checking or savings account. To receive the payment, recipients must click on a link to complete and submit an online form by a certain date; otherwise, the e-mail warns, payment may be delayed. The form requests personal and financial data, including checking or savings account numbers that the scammers can use to gain access to the accounts.
In reality, the way members of the public receive their economic stimulus payment is to file a tax return with the IRS, not a special form. Additionally, the IRS does not request personal or financial information via e-mail.
Information on how to obtain an economic stimulus payment may be found in the Economic Stimulus Payment Information Center on the IRS Web site (www.irs.gov). For more information on stimulus-related scams, see IR-2008-11.

 

Substitute Form 1040 Fax Scam

This scam consists of a cover letter and form that are faxed, rather than e-mailed. The cover letter is addressed “Dear Valued Tax Payer (sic)” and appears to be signed by an IRS employee. The letter says that the IRS is updating its files and that recipients who supply the requested information will receive a nominal tax refund. It also states that those who fail to immediately return the completed form risk additional tax and withholding. The attached form is labeled a substitute Form 1040 and is titled “Certificate of Current Status of Beneficial Owner For United States Tax Recertification & Withholding.” It requests a large amount of detailed personal and financial information, such as mother’s maiden name (often used in security screening), bank account numbers, estimated assets and more. It asks the recipient to sign and fax back the completed form, as well as a copy of the recipient’s driver’s license and passport.
The letter, signature and form are all fraudulent. Moreover, the IRS does not send unsolicited faxes to taxpayers and does not request such detailed personal and financial information.

This is a variant of earlier scams. For more information, see news releases IR-2004-104 and IR-2004-75.

 

 

Company Report Scam

This e-mail appears to come from an IRS.gov e-mail address, addresses recipients by name and references the company the recipient works for. These personalized details may convince the recipient that the e-mail is legitimate. The e-mail says that the IRS has a report on the company and asks the recipient to review a copy by clicking on a link to download the report. However, when the link is clicked, malware is downloaded to the recipient’s computer.
There are various types of malware, which can hijack a victim’s computer hard drive to give someone remote access to the computer, search for passwords and other information and send them to the scammer, or cause other types of identity theft or damage.
The IRS does not compile reports on companies or send e-mails to company staff asking them to review a report. Generally, the IRS does not send unsolicited e-mails to taxpayers.

 

Tax Court Scam

In this scam, an e-mail that appears to come from the U.S. Tax Court contains a petition involving a court case between the IRS and the recipient. The document instructs the recipient to download other files. The downloads transfer malware, or malicious code, to the recipient’s computer.
There are various types of malware, which, for example, can hijack a victim’s computer hard drive to give someone remote access to the computer, or can search for passwords and other information and send them to the scammer.
The truth is that the Tax Court is not e-mailing notices to anyone who currently has a case before the court. Visit the court’s Web site at http://www.ustaxcourt.gov/ for more information. Recipients are advised to avoid clicking on any links in the e-mail and to delete the e-mail.

 

How Tax Scams Work

To lure their victims, phishing scams use the name of a known institution, such as the IRS, to either offer a reward for taking a simple action, such as providing information, or threaten or imply an unpleasant consequence, such as losing a refund, for failing to take the requested action.

The goal of the scams is to trick people into revealing personal and financial information, such as Social Security, bank account or credit card numbers, which the scammers can use to commit identity theft.
Typically, identity thieves use a victim’s personal and financial data to empty the victim’s financial accounts, run up charges on the victim’s existing credit cards, apply for new loans, credit cards, services or benefits in the victim’s name, file fraudulent tax returns or even commit crimes. Most of these fraudulent activities can be committed electronically from a remote location, including overseas. Committing these activities in cyberspace allows scammers to act quickly and cover their tracks before the victim becomes aware of the theft.
People whose identities have been stolen can spend months or years — and their hard-earned money — cleaning up the mess thieves have made of their reputations and credit records. In the meantime, victims may lose job opportunities or may be refused loans, education, housing or cars.

 

What to Do if Victim of Tax Scam
Anyone wishing to access the IRS Web site should type www.irs.gov into their Internet address window, rather than clicking on a link in an e-mail or opening an attachment, either of which may download malicious code or send the recipient to a phony Web site.

Those who have received a questionable e-mail claiming to come from the IRS may forward it to the following address: phishing@irs.gov. Use the instructions contained in an article on IRS.gov titled “How to Protect Yourself from Suspicious E-Mails or Phishing Schemes.”

Following the instructions will help the IRS track the suspicious e-mail to its origins and shut down the scam. Find the article by visiting IRS.gov and entering the words “suspicious e-mails” into the search box in the upper right corner of the front page.
Those who have received a questionable telephone call that claims to come from the IRS may also use the phishing@irs.gov mailbox to notify the IRS.
The IRS has issued previous warnings on scams that use the IRS name to lend the scam legitimacy. More information on identity theft, phishing and telephone scams using the IRS name, logo or spoofed (copied) Web site is available on the IRS Web site at IRS.gov. Enter the terms “phishing,” “identity theft” or “e-mail scams” into the search box in the upper right corner of the front page.

2008 Tax Rebates Start Going Out Early

Some tax filers who used direct deposit for their refunds saw their tax rebate deposited into their accounts today. This is early as the IRS stated that the rebates would not be sent out until Friday May 2nd.

Do not be alarmed if you did not get your rebate today, the IRS will be sending them out in batches. Refer to the chart here (scroll down – sorry theme problems) to see the expected date of your tax rebate based on the last two digits of your SSN.

“Starting Monday, the effects of the stimulus will begin to reach millions of households across our country,” Bush said Friday in remarks on the South Lawn of the White House.

My Poll on this website shows that most people will be using their rebates to pay bills and the AP reports that most of your tax rebates will go toward gas prices since the price is expected to hit $4 a gallon soon. Ouch!!

Tax Rebates Mailing Begins May 2nd

IRS Announces Economic Stimulus Payment Schedules, Provides Online Payment Calculator

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service announced today that it will begin sending more than 130 million economic stimulus payments starting May 2. The initial round of weekly payments will be completed by early July.

Stimulus payments will be made by direct deposit to people who choose to receive their 2007 income tax refunds through direct deposit. All others will receive their economic stimulus payments in the form of a paper check.

“To receive an economic stimulus payment, people just need to file their tax returns as they usually do,” said IRS Acting Commissioner Linda E. Stiff. “The payments will be automatic for the vast majority of taxpayers. Some lower-income workers and recipients of certain Social Security and veterans benefits who don’t normally need to file a tax return will need to do so in order to receive a stimulus payment. IRS.gov has all the information people need to help them obtain a stimulus payment.”

Stimulus payments will be sent out in the order of the last two digits of the Social Security number used on the tax return.

Because the IRS will use the Social Security number to determine when checks are mailed, taxpayers may receive their checks at different times than their neighbors or other family members. On a jointly filed return, the first Social Security number listed will determine the mail-out time.

The IRS expects to make about 34 million payments within the first three weeks after the payment schedule begins May 2. With more than 130 million households expected to receive stimulus payments, more than 25 percent of the payments will be made in the first three weeks.

 

Tax Rebates Mailing Begins May 2nd

Taxpayers who choose direct deposit on their federal income tax returns can expect to receive their economic stimulus payments between May 2 and May 16 provided their returns were received and processed by April 15, 2008. For taxpayers who did not choose direct deposit on their tax return but whose returns were processed by April 15, the paper checks will be in the mail starting May 16, with the initial mailings completed by around July 11.

The IRS is also announcing today the availability of an on-line rebate calculator on IRS.gov to help taxpayers determine if they are eligible to receive an economic stimulus payment and if they are, how much they can expect. Anyone who has prepared a 2007 income tax return can use the calculator. It will ask taxpayers a series of questions, so they should have their 2007 tax returns handy. After answering the questions, the calculator will provide the projected dollar value of the payment.

Below are the schedules for economic stimulus payments related to tax returns processed by April 15, 2008.

Stimulus Payment Schedule for Tax Returns Received and Processed by April 15

If you received your Tax Refund By:
Direct Deposit
If the last two digits of your Social Security number are: Your economic stimulus payment deposit should be sent to your
bank account by:
00 – 20 May 2
21 – 75 May 9
76 – 99 May 16
If you received your Tax Refund By:
Paper Check
If the last two digits of your Social Security number are: Your check should be in the mail by:
00 – 09 May 16
10 – 18 May 23
19 – 25 May 30
26 – 38 June 6
39 – 51 June 13
52 – 63 June 20
64 – 75 June 27
76 – 87 July 4
88 – 99 July 11

A small percentage of tax returns will require additional time to process and to compute a stimulus payment amount. For these returns, stimulus payments may not be issued in accordance with the schedule above, even if the tax return was processed by April 15.

All or part of an economic stimulus payment may be applied to back taxes or certain other debts of the taxpayer, such as delinquent child support and student loans. In such cases, the IRS will send a letter to the taxpayer explaining the offset.

To accommodate people whose tax returns are processed after April 15, the IRS will continue sending weekly payments. People who file tax returns after April 15 and receive a refund can expect to receive their economic stimulus payments in about two weeks after receiving their tax refunds, but not before the date they would have received their payment if the return had been processed by April 15. To ensure taxpayers receive their stimulus payment this year, they must file a tax return by Oct. 15.

Two bureaus of the Treasury Department are involved in making the payments. The IRS will calculate the amount of each economic stimulus payment based on the tax year 2007 income tax returns it receives. The IRS will then forward the information to the Financial Management Service (FMS), which is the bureau of the Treasury Department that makes federal payments such as Social Security benefits, federal income tax refunds and, now, economic stimulus payments.

The IRS reminds taxpayers that they can get their stimulus payments faster by using direct deposit when they file their tax return.

In addition, the IRS urges taxpayers to file electronically.

Source: IRS Newswire