IRS Holding $164.6 Million in Undelivered Tax Refund Checks

Missing Your Tax Refund?

The Internal Revenue Service is looking to return $164.6 million in undelivered tax refund checks. A total of 111,893 taxpayers are due one or more refund checks that could not be delivered because of mailing address errors.

“We want to make sure taxpayers get the money owed to them,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. “If you think you are missing a refund, the sooner you update your address information, the quicker you can get your money.”

A taxpayer only needs to update his or her address once for the IRS to send out all checks due. Undelivered refund checks average $1,471 this year, compared to $1,148 last year. Some taxpayers are due more than one check.

The average dollar amount for returned refunds rose by just over 28 percent this year, possibly due to recent changes in tax law which introduced new credits or expanded existing tax credits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit.

 

IRS Holding $164.6 Million in Undelivered Tax Refund Checks

If a refund check is returned to the IRS as undelivered, taxpayers can generally update their addresses with the “ Where’s my refund?” tool. The tool also 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 2009 return. The tool will provide the status of their refund and, in some cases, instructions on how to resolve delivery problems.

“If you think you are missing a refund, the sooner you update your address information, the quicker you can get your money.”

Taxpayers checking on a refund over the phone will receive instructions on how to update their addresses. Taxpayers can access a telephone version of “Where’s My Refund?” by calling 1-800-829-1954.

While only a small percentage of checks mailed out by the IRS are returned as undelivered, taxpayers can put an end to lost, stolen or undelivered checks by choosing direct deposit when they file either paper or electronic returns. Taxpayers can receive refunds directly into their bank, split a tax refund into two or three financial accounts or even buy a savings bond.

The IRS also recommends that taxpayers file their tax returns electronically, because e-file eliminates the risk of lost paper returns. E-file also reduces errors on tax returns and speeds up refunds. E-file combined with direct deposit is the best option for taxpayers; it’s easy, fast and safe.

The public should be aware that the IRS does not contact taxpayers by e-mail to alert them of pending refunds and that such messages are common identity theft scams. The agency urges taxpayers not to release any personal information, reply, open any attachments or click on any links to avoid malicious code that will infect their computers. The best way for an individual to verify if she or he has a pending refund is by using the “ Where’s my refund?” tool.

Does the IRS Owe You Money?

Many taxpayers are owed money by the IRS and might not even know about it. 

tax-refund-check

If you have not filed a prior year tax return and are due a refund, you should consider filing the return to claim that refund. If you are missing a refund for a previously filed tax return, you should contact the IRS to check the status of your refund and confirm your current address. If you earned income in the last few years but you didn’t file a tax return because your wages were below the filing requirement, the Internal Revenue Service may have some money for you. The IRS also has millions of dollars in checks that are returned each year as undeliverable.

If the government owes you money and you do not collect it, then it’s unclaimed. This can also happen with banks, credit unions, pensions, and other sources.

Beware of unclaimed money scams. There are people who pretend to be the government and offer to send you unclaimed money for a fee. Government agencies will not call you about unclaimed money or assets. Learn how to spot these types of scams.

 

Unclaimed Refunds by Taxpayers

Some people may have had taxes withheld from their wages but were not required to file a tax return because they had too little income. Others may not have had any tax withheld but would be eligible for the refundable Earned Income Tax Credit. This is true whether your work withholds money from your paycheck automatically or not. The amount of money you can receive depends upon your income and the number of qualifying children you have. If your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) is under the Income Level in the chart below, then you can qualify for the maximum credit.

  • To collect this money a return must be filed with the IRS no later than three years from the due date of the return.
  • If no return is filed to claim the refund within three years, the money becomes the property of the U.S. Treasury.
  • There is no penalty assessed by the IRS for filing a late return qualifying for a refund.
  • Current and prior year tax forms and instructions are available on the Forms and Publications web page of IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).
  • Information about the Earned Income Tax Credit and how to claim it is also available on IRS.gov.

 

Undeliverable Tax Refunds by Taxpayers

Were you expecting a refund check but didn’t get it?

  • Refund checks are mailed to your last known address. Checks are returned to the IRS if you move without notifying the IRS or the U.S. Postal Service.
  • You may be able to update your address with the IRS on the Where’s My Refund? feature available here. You will be prompted to provide an updated address if there is an undeliverable check outstanding within the last 12 months.
  • You can also ensure the IRS has your correct address by filing Form 8822, Change of Address, which is available below or can be ordered by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).
  • If you do not have access to the Internet and think you may be missing a refund, you should first check your records or contact your tax preparer. If your refund information appears correct, call the IRS toll-free assistance line at 800-829-1040 to check the status of your refund and confirm your address.

 

Does the IRS Owe You Money?

Additional IRS Links on Unclaimed Money:

Where’s My Refund?

Form 8822, Change of Address

YouTube Videos on Unclaimed Money:

Haven’t Filed a Tax Return in Years?: English  | ASL

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 IRS eFile Refund Cycle Chart

The IRS does not guarantee a specific date that a refund will be deposited into a taxpayer’s bank account.

IRS Acceptance Date
(by 11:00 am) between…

Direct Deposit Sent*

Paper Check Mailed*

Jan 11 and Jan 17 2008

Jan 25, 2008

Feb 1, 2008

Jan 17 and Jan 24 2008

Feb 1, 2008

Feb 8, 2008

Jan 24 and Jan 31 2008

Feb 8, 2008

Feb 15, 2008

Jan 31 and Feb 7 2008

Feb 15, 2008

Feb 22, 2008

Feb 7 and Feb 14 2008

Feb 22, 2008

Feb 29, 2008

Feb 14 and Feb 21 2008

Feb 29, 2008

Mar 7, 2008

Feb 21 and Feb 28 2008

Mar 7, 2008

Mar 14, 2008

Feb 28 and Mar 6 2008

Mar 14, 2008

Mar 21, 2008

Mar 6 and Mar 13 2008

Mar 21, 2008

Mar 28, 2008

Mar 13 and Mar 20 2008

Mar 28, 2008

Apr 4, 2008

Mar 20 and Mar 27 2008

Apr 4, 2008

Apr 11, 2008

Mar 27 and Apr 3 2008

Apr 11, 2008

Apr 18, 2008

Apr 3 and Apr 10 2008

Apr 18, 2008

Apr 25, 2008

Apr 10 and Apr 17 2008

Apr 25, 2008

May 2, 2008

Apr 17 and Apr 24 2008

May 2, 2008

May 9, 2008

Apr 24 and May 1 2008

May 9, 2008

May 16, 2008

May 1 and May 8 2008

May 16, 2008

May 23, 2008

May 8 and May 15 2008

May 23, 2008

May 30, 2008

May 15 and May 22 2008

May 30, 2008

June 6, 2008

May 22 and May 29 2008

June 6, 2008

June 13, 2008

May 29 and June 5 2008

June 13, 2008

June 20, 2008

June 5 and June 12 2008

June 20, 2008

June 27, 2008

June 12 and June 19 2008

June 27, 2008

July 4, 2008

June 19 and June 26 2008

July 4, 2008

July 11, 2008

June 26 and July 3 2008

July 11, 2008

July 18, 2008

July 3 and July 10 2008

July 18, 2008

July 25, 2008

July 10 and July 17 2008

July 25, 2008

Aug 1, 2008

July 17 and July 24 2008

Aug 1, 2008

Aug 8, 2008

July 24 and Jul 31 2008

Aug 8, 2008

Aug 15, 2008

Jul 31 and Aug 7 2008

Aug 15, 2008

Aug 22, 2008

Aug 7 and Aug 14 2008

Aug 22, 2008

Aug 29, 2008

Aug 14 and Aug 21 2008

Aug 29, 2008

Sep 5, 2008

Aug 21 and Aug 28 2008

Sep 5, 2008

Sep 12, 2008

Aug 28 and Sep 4 2008

Sep 12, 2008

Sep 19, 2008

Sep 4 and Sep 11 2008

Sep 19, 2008

Sep 26, 2008

Sep 11 and Sep 18 2008

Sep 26, 2008

Oct 3, 2008

Sep 18 and Sep 25 2008

Oct 3, 2008

Oct 10, 2008

Sep 25 and Oct 2 2008

Oct 10, 2008

Oct 17, 2008

Oct 2 and Oct 9 2008

Oct 17, 2008

Oct 24, 2008

Oct 9 and Oct 16 2008

Oct 24, 2008

Oct 31, 2008

Oct 16 and Oct 23 2008

Oct 31, 2008

Nov 7, 2008

*The IRS does not guarantee a specific date that a refund will be deposited or mailed.

2008 IRS eFile Refund Cycle Chart

Taxpayer should wait at least three weeks from the time the electronic return is accepted by the IRS before checking the status of a tax refund. To check the status of a tax refund, call 1-800-829-4477 (toll free) or check the official IRS website www.irs.gov

Track Your IRS Tax Refund Online

Wondering where your refund is or when you can expect to recieve it?The IRS should issue your refund check within six to eight weeks of filing a paper return. If you use e-file and you chose to receive your refund through direct deposit, you should receive it within a week. If you use e-file and a check, your refund should be issued between two and three weeks.Track your Refund here.

 

When to check status…

  • Within 24 hours after we’ve received your e-filed tax return
  • 4 weeks after you mail your paper return
  • “Where’s My Refund?” is updated once every 24 hours

 

What you need…

  • Social Security Number
  • Filing status
  • Exact refund amount