IRS owes more than 3,100 Illinois residents money

CHICAGO—The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has money for more than 3,100 Illinois residents who still haven’t received their 2004 federal tax refunds.

An annual review shows 3,133 Illinois taxpayers are due federal tax refunds totaling almost $2.3 million. These refunds were returned to the IRS as “undeliverable.” Most refunds are from tax returns filed for the 2004 tax year, but some taxpayers are due refunds for more than one tax year. The checks range from as low as $1 to nearly $39,000. The average per-check amount is $731. Nationwide, 84,290 refunds totaling more than $73 million were returned to the IRS.

“We want to get this money to the people it belongs to,” said Sue Hales, IRS spokesman for Illinois. “It’s really a simple process. As soon as we get a correct address, we can reissue the check.”

Hales said refund checks go astray for reasons that can vary with each taxpayer. “Most often, it’s because a life change—such as a marriage—causes an address change. If a taxpayer moves or changes their address and fails to notify the IRS or the U.S. Postal Service, a check sent to their last known address is returned to the IRS,” said Hales.

Taxpayers can find out if they have an undelivered tax refund by visiting the IRS Web site at and clicking on “Where’s My Refund.” To use this feature, taxpayers enter information that includes their Social Security number, filing status (such as single or married filing jointly) and the refund amount shown on their 2004 tax return. When this information is submitted online, taxpayers will see the status of their refund check and, in many cases, they also get instructions to resolve potential account problems. If a refund was returned by the post office, the taxpayer may be able to update their address online through the “Where’s My Refund” application.

Taxpayers who have moved since filing their last tax return can ensure the IRS has their correct address by filing Form 8822, Change of Address, with the IRS. Download the form from the IRS Web site at, or request it by calling 1-800-829-3676.

Many people affected by Hurricane Katrina have relocated throughout the country. The IRS will expedite research into the status of undelivered payments and issue a refund check (even when the original check is outstanding) for Gulf Coast residents affected by Hurricane Katrina. The IRS advises hurricane victims who had been expecting a refund check but did not receive one to contact the IRS on the special toll-free Katrina disaster line at 1-866-562-5227.

Taxpayers without access to the Internet who think they may be missing a refund check should first check their records or contact their tax preparer, then call the IRS toll-free assistance line at 1-800-829-1040 to update their address.

Hales said taxpayers can avoid undelivered tax refunds by choosing to have their refunds deposited directly into a personal checking or savings account. Direct deposit guards against undelivered, lost or stolen refund checks. The option is available for both paper returns and electronically filed returns. More than 52 million taxpayers chose to direct deposit their refunds this year.

From the Nov. 30-Dec. 6, 2005, issue

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