Local taxpayers missing thousands in returns

Miss out on your 2008 tax refund?

Nearly $1.2 million is owed to Bay Area residents in unclaimed returns, including $277,000 in San Mateo County, according to the Internal Revenue Service.

People often move after they have filed their returns, but do not leave a forwarding address, IRS spokesman Jesse Weller said. As a result, the checks come back uncashed.

“We live in a very mobile society,” Weller said. “People move and the IRS is not informed.”

More than 200 people who lived on the Peninsula have refund checks waiting for them, according to the IRS. The average check amount is $1,136. In San Francisco, about 370 people are owed a collective $485,224, according to the IRS.

The checks do not expire, Weller said. When the person files their next tax return, the IRS will attempt to send the check to the new address or post the owed amount to an account listed on the new return.

There is a form, Weller said, to prevent this from happening. An 8822 form can be sent in before the tax return check is mailed, to let the IRS know of a change of address. The most effective way for a taxpayer to make sure they get their money is to file electronically, Weller said.

“It goes directly into your bank account,” he said. “The check won’t get stolen or lost. And you don’t have to change your address.”

Weller said checks are returned every year to the IRS uncashed because of a change of address. Nationally, $123.5 million in refund checks have been returned to the IRS by the U.S. Postal Service due to mailing errors. In California alone, $16.7 million was returned — money due to 15,374 Californians.

It is rare, he said, that a person eligible for a return is hiding from the government.

“Usually that’s when they owe money,” he said of taxpayers disappearing and not being able to receive checks. “We want people to claim this — it’s money they can use now.”

If you are missing your refund, call “Where’s My Refund?” at (800) 829-1954.

 

IRS wants you

More than $2.7 million in Bay Area refund checks are unclaimed.

County Check count Average amount Sum of checks
Santa Clara 632 $1,086 $684,187
Alameda 481 $999 $478,403
San Francisco 370 $1,311 $485,224
Contra Costa 339 $1,396 $473,159
San Mateo 203 $1,365 $277,070
Sonoma 132 $690 $91,080
Solano    126    $707 $89,050
Marin    84 $1,312$110,193
Napa 39 $1,155 $45,044

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