The Internal Revenue Service is trying to distribute $153.3 million in tax refunds to nearly 100,000 taxpayers. But thanks to mailing address errors, these people can’t be located.
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“If you’re moving or plan to move within the next month or so, you’re probably aware of the need to notify your bank and the post office of your new address,” says Sherrill Trovato, president of the National Association of Enrolled Agents. “But you should also notify the IRS.”
Form 8822 is the best way to alert the IRS that your place of residence has changed.
You can also write a letter to the IRS to notify it of your new address. Include your full name, old and new addresses, Social Security number or Employer Identification number, and signature. If you file a joint return, be sure to include the correct information for both taxpayers. Those filing jointly but have separate residences, should also make sure you include this information as well. You can also change your address online, at IRS.gov.
And don’t forget to notify your employer of your new address to ensure a speedy delivery of your W-2s.
The number of lost refund checks has actually decreased over the past few years thanks to taxpayers choosing to receive their refunds via direct deposit. In 2010, more than 78 million taxpayers chose to receive their refund through direct deposit, and the IRS recommends more people do the same.
“This is the fastest and easiest way to receive your refund,” says Trovato. “You don’t have to worry about your refund getting lost in the mail, or having your check stolen.”
Last year 8 out of 10 taxpayers filed their return electronically, or e-file, but you don’t have to file electronically to take advantage of the direct deposit option. Paper filers can receive a direct deposit refund directly into their bank accounts, split a tax refund into two or three accounts, or buy a savings bond.
“Make sure your account information is correct when you sign up for direct deposit,” says Jacki Pearlman, principal tax researcher at the Tax Institute at H&R Block (NYSE:HRB). “Double-checking your account number and bank routing number ensures a quick, hassle-free refund.”
Pearlman says some people may be concerned about privacy issues when submitting their bank account number to the IRS, but says this shouldn’t be a cause for hesitation.
“Remember, you’re sending in a tax return with a lot of personal information on it, anyway,” she says. “But if you’re really concerned about an unauthorized person having access to your account, you can easily open a free checking account and use it specifically for direct deposit purposes.”
Taxpayers who know they have a return coming are urged to file early, and can use the “Where’s My Refund?” tool at IRS.gov to get a status update at any time. Paper checks usually take about six weeks, while those who e-file can expect to see their refund directly deposited into their bank accounts within eight days.