Stimulus checks still unclaimed 10.29.08

Written by David Green.

DETROIT- The Internal Revenue Service is looking for 7,831 Michiganians who are missing more than $4.9 million in economic stimulus payments and tax refund checks that were returned by the U.S. Postal Service due to mailing address errors. Nationwide the IRS has more than 279,000 economic stimulus checks totaling about $163 million and more than 104,000 regular refund checks totaling about $103 million.

“We very much want to get this money into the hands of taxpayers where it belongs,” said IRS Spokesperson, Luis D. Garcia. “There are a number of ways people can to update their address with the IRS but using direct deposit next time will avoid all the headaches. All a taxpayer has to do is update their address once and we will 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 $552.The “Where’s My Stimulus Payment?" tool on IRS.gov 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 Tax Refunds
The regular refund checks that were returned to the IRS average $837. These checks are resent as soon as taxpayers update their address. Taxpayers can update their addresses with the “Where’s My Refund?” tool on IRS.gov. 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. 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 or about one-quarter of one percent. Meanwhile, the IRS has distributed more than 105 million regular refunds this year with only about 104,000 being undeliverable or one-tenth of one percent.

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.

Watch out for scams!
The IRS never initiates emails! Don’t fall for any email scams about your refund. The IRS will never request personal information via an unsolicited email.
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