Millions in Rebates, Refunds Returned to IRS


If you're still waiting for your economic stimulus payment, it might be in one of the more than 383,000 pieces of mail returned to the IRS.

Those envelopes were undeliverable because of bad addresses. That's left taxpayers frustrated as the IRS tries to figure out how to get $266 million in tax rebate and regular tax refund checks to their rightful owners.

The good news is that it's easy to let the IRS know where to resend your rebate or refund check.

But don't dally. If it's a rebate you're waiting on, you only have until Nov. 28 to claim your cash.

Nice-sized checks
Most of the money that didn't make it to taxpayers is from returned rebate checks. They total $163 million, with the average rebate coming to $583.

The regular refunds are fewer and account for only $103 million, but the average returned refund check is $988.

Of course, those amounts are averages. Your unclaimed check might be less, but then again, it might be more. And any amount of money would be nice, especially in these tight economic times and with the holidays approaching.

An annual problem
This year's number of returned tax checks is more than three times the number marked undeliverable last year. That increase is thanks to the economic stimulus payments, which were sent to taxpayers who met certain income requirements.

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All these rebate-eligible filers had to do was file a 2007 tax return. But in 279,000 cases, the addresses on those 1040 forms were incorrect.

In many cases, the taxpayers moved after filing their returns and didn't let the IRS know their new addresses. In some cases, though, the addresses on the forms were illegible, so they bounced back to Uncle Sam.

The same problems showed up on another 104,000 or so returns filed by taxpayers who are due regular tax refunds.

Whatever the reason and whichever tax payment is involved, the IRS has money that could be yours.

"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," IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman said in announcing the returned check problem. The tax chief added that as soon his staff gets the updated addresses, the checks will once again be on their way.

Nov. 28 tax rebate deadline
Getting that information to the IRS is relatively simple, especially if you use the online options provided by the IRS.

If it's a rebate check you're missing, head to the IRS's "Where's My Stimulus Payment?" online tracking tool. There you can check the status of your stimulus check and receive instructions on how to update your address. If you prefer, you can do the same by calling the IRS at (866) 234-2942.

Just make sure you go online or make the call by Nov. 28.

By law, the rebate checks must be sent out by Dec. 31, so the IRS has established the late-November address change cutoff date to ensure that it can update its records and meet the final mailing deadline.

Recover a Regular Refund...Read More