Fine Print: IRS: Will swap refund checks for correct addresses

Staff reports

It's not every day that the Internal Revenue Service is actually looking to give you tips on how to ensure you save money. But we'll take the advice from the IRS when we can get it.

In the past week, the IRS announced that it is still looking for Massachusetts taxpayers who are missing more than 1,800 refund checks that collectively total more than $2.3 million - checks that were returned to the IRS by the U.S. Postal Service due to mailing address errors.

In Massachusetts, the undeliverable refund checks average $1,262 this year, up from $963 last year.

The IRS used the announcement as a helpful reminder for taxpayers to ensure that the agency has the proper address for them.

“We want Massachusetts taxpayers to get this money as soon as possible,'' IRS spokeswoman Peggy Riley said.

The IRS said several recent changes in tax law - such as the first-time homebuyer's credit and “recovery rebate'' credit - likely played a role in boosting the size and amount of refunds. 

If you're thinking you may be missing a refund, you can check out the “Where's My Refund?'' tool on the IRS.gov Web site. To check on the status of a refund, taxpayers need to submit their Social Security numbers, filing status and amount of the refund shown on their 2008 returns. The Web site will provide the refund status and in some cases offer ways to fix delivery problems. Taxpayers who want to check over the phone can do so by calling 1-800-829-1954.

The misplaced refunds are one reason why the IRS encourages taxpayers to choose the direct deposit option when they file their returns, to get refunds directly sent to their checking or savings accounts. The IRS encourages taxpayers to file their tax returns electronically for a similar reason; electronic filings also tend to result in more expedited refund returns.

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