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IRS Is Ready and Willing to Pay Up

Times Staff Writer

Looking for some extra holiday cash?

About 1,000 people in Orange County might find that wish easily fulfilled -- if they claim their undelivered federal tax refund checks.

The checks total about $1.1 million and range from $1 to $28,624. Some people have several checks waiting for them, reflecting multiple refunds. “If we owe you money, we’d like to get it to you,” Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Mark W. Everson said in the agency’s annual appeal to clear unclaimed refunds.

Those with Internet access can log onto the agency’s website at www.irs.gov to see if there’s a check for them. Click on “Where’s My Refund?” and follow the instructions.

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Those without computer access can call the toll-free assistance line at (800) 829-1040.

The outreach is part of a national effort, said Raphael Tulino, IRS spokesman for Southern California.

Once a return has been filed, there is no deadline for reclaiming a refund.

A taxpayer who does not file a federal income tax return has three years to file and claim any refund for that tax year before the money reverts to the U.S. Treasury.

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In Southern California, 4,374 refund checks, worth $3.3 million, remain unclaimed.

Nationally, unclaimed checks total $73 million for 87,485 taxpayers.

Most of the unclaimed refund checks were returned because they couldn’t be delivered to the name and address the agency had on file.

The Postal Service estimates that about 40 million Americans move each year.

Taxpayers can file a change of address by downloading Form 8822 from the website or calling (800) 829-3676 ([800] TAX-FORM).

Taxpayers also can avoid payment delays by having refunds deposited directly into a personal checking or savings account.

The option, used by more than 49 million filers receiving $120 billion in refunds this year, is available for both paper and electronically filed returns.

The IRS is getting better at returning money, if the previous year’s amount is any indication.

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Last year, there were 2,500 people in Orange County with undeliverable checks totaling $1.8 million.

The largest check was for $143,576.


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