IRS Is Stuck With $153.3 Million It Wants To Give Away

The Internal Revenue Service has $153.3 million in tax refunds burning a hole in its pocket, but can’t find any takers. The agency says mailing address errors have rendered 99,123 refund checks undeliverable.

Reuters notes that the way to get around losing your tax refund in the mail abyss is to join the 78.4 million taxpayers who sign up for direct deposit when they file their tax returns. The method is more reliable than mail, if not foolproof. For instance, closing your account before the deposit comes through or filling out your information incorrectly can prevent you from getting your money in a timely manner.

If you suspect the IRS has got your money, its website lists several ways to make contact.

Undelivered tax refunds total $153.3 million: IRS [Reuters via Yahoo]

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  1. Cat says:

    How do people “forget” the government owes them money?

    • Dr. Ned - This underwear is Sofa King Comfortable! says:

      The same way people ‘forget’ to continue breathing between when you file and when they send the check?

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      I’m guessing it’s small amounts of money and people don’t think it’s worth spending hours-upon-hours on the phone with the IRS to resolve. It’s funny how much better the IRS is at tracking down people who owe them money.

    • caradrake says:

      In my case, we moved out of state (a state that didn’t offer direct deposit) just before the check was mailed. I have no clue what happened to it, if its laying in limbo, or the people who moved into our place trashed it (or cashed it!), or what.

      I’ve contacted the state to get the money, and they say that the only way we can have them start an investigation is to fax them a request.

      As we don’t have a fax machine, or have ready access to one, that money is still out there somewhere. :/

    • tinyninja says:

      Raises hand sheepishly…

      When I estimated my refund for 2009 I was apparently high or something and somehow calculated that I owed $17.00. When tax time rolled around I couldn’t find one of my W-2s (switched jobs that year) so filed an extension. Aaaaaand then I forgot until I got a nastygram from the IRS a couple of months ago, saying that there could be civil and criminal penalties if I don’t pay up.

      So I sat down to do my taxes and found that I was actually owed $344.00. If they had shut their faces they would have gotten to keep that money.

  2. Rantaholic says:

    I bet if it was 99,123 people owing the IRS money they’d have current addresses for them. :)

  3. MattAlbie says:

    Dibs.

  4. McRib wants to know if you've been saved by the Holy Clown says:

    I say, we seem to have all this extra money. Such a shame that we simply don’t have the manpower or the technology to find the address of these fine citizens who seem to have overpaid us, what?

    Now if you’ll excuse me I’m off to buy some more monocles!
    Pip, pip!

  5. axhandler1 says:

    “IRS is stuck with 153.3 million it is legally obligated to return to you.”

    FTFY

  6. Wonderweasel says:

    Buy everyone in America a temporary tattoo

  7. r-nice says:

    How much effort have they put into finding these people?

    • wrjohnston91283 says:

      How much effort have they put into finding these people?

      Why should the IRS devote any time to this? The taxpayer filed a return and said “send my refund to address abc”. This address ended up being incorrect. I’d rather tax money be spent finding the addresses of people who OWE the IRS money.

      • JoeDawson says:

        Exactly… this is not on the IRS when people cant fill out a simple demographic form properly (believe me, I get typos on so many demographic forms at my office) I am not talking the actual tax part, just the NAME ADDRESS etc…

      • tinyninja says:

        I recently got a nastygram from the IRS stating that I didn’t file for 2009, and that if I didn’t do so they may calculate my taxes for me. So that tells me that these people may not have filed themselves. (I filed for an extension and for the first time in 20 years forgot to file.)

        The letter I got, BTW, said there may be civil and criminal penalties if I didn’t file. Since they actually owed me, this tells me that they don’t know whether or not you owe when they send you their form letter. I don’t think it’s as cut and dried as you think.

        • wrjohnston91283 says:

          It’s even more cut and dry. In your case, you did not file a tax return. Despite the fact that in the end, you were owed money, the IRS does not know this until you file the return. All they know is what employers and financial institutions report to them. If people are owed money, and never file a return to get the refund, why should the government waste resources trying to hunt them down?

  8. noahproblem1 says:

    I’d ask “what’s a tax refund?”, but since I actually had a small refund last year I can’t.

    (Thankfully it was only $53, and that was mostly because I had a large end-of-year vacation payout last year – I won’t have that problem this year).

    • dpeters11 says:

      I personally try to have a small refund each year. I hate owing, and it’s pretty much impossible to make it even out exactly so you don’t owe or due a refund.

      • CubeRat says:

        I’d prefer to owe a little bit. I have use for my money, thank you very much.

        When I was in college, I’d claim zero and use the return to help pay spring fees. Now, I calculate in Jan and pay in April by auto-debit. Works great.

  9. mandarax says:

    Shouldn’t this line:

    The method is more reliable than mail, if not foolproof. For instance, closing your account before the deposit comes through or filling out your information incorrectly can prevent you from getting your money in a timely manner.

    read like this (asterisks for emphasis on edit):

    The method is more reliable than mail, *but* not foolproof. For instance, closing your account before the deposit comes through or filling out your information incorrectly can prevent you from getting your money in a timely manner.

  10. WhoLikesPie? says:

    Can I call dibs?

  11. falnfenix says:

    “has got?” really?

  12. Oranges w/ Cheese says:

    They can give it to us instead of charging us and extra $200 every month against the $238 monthly payment we owe them. They WANT us to pay it off, right?

    • Evil_Otto would rather pay taxes than make someone else rich says:

      I have a solution to your problem. It’s called “pay your taxes”. $283 is pretty much next to nothing.

      • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

        No no, you fail to understand – my fiance was admittedly stupid and failed to pay his taxes a couple of years ago. Don’t ask me why he didn’t but anyway – its all settled up with the IRS and he’s on a payment plan. They agreed he can pay $238 monthly against what he owes them.

        But, they charge him about $200 every month AGAINST the balance, so he’s only really paying about $38 (if he holds to the agreement). Which is why I’m telling him Give them $500 this month, give them as much as you can. It’s evil. Do they want their money or not?

        • Bsamm09 says:

          Has he ever talked to someone about an Offer In Compromise? May be worth looking into.

        • human_shield says:

          Are you sure? Have you done the math on the statements? I had to work out an agreement for unpaid taxes for an elderly relative who stopped paying theirs for years, and the interest and penalties weren’t that much.

      • DariusC says:

        Yeah, pay your taxes so Obama can hand the money over to the corporations. Lovely idea, i’ll just do that.

        • axhandler1 says:

          Lol, good luck with your plan not to pay your taxes. That oughta work out just fine for you in the end.

        • axhandler1 says:

          Lol, good luck with your plan not to pay your taxes. I’m sure that’s really going to work out for you in the end.

        • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

          Yeah, pay your taxes – or else the IRS will own your ass. Seriously, put your moral or whatever issues you have with it and just pay it. You’ll regret it if you don’t.

  13. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Apply it to your next year’s taxes. The IRS should know who you are when you file the following year, even if you moved.

  14. SabreDC says:

    19 Kids and Counting?

    • SabreDC says:

      Haha, oops. That was supposed to be in the Lowe’s thread. That will teach me for having two Consumerist tabs open.

  15. TaxDog says:

    Not being trollish about it, but a lot of it is due to illegal immigrants(some) who do not file a return(notice I didn’t say pay their taxes) you have to file to get a refund. Many won’t or refuse to. Some people don’t put their whole address fearing the government will find them( and give them money I guess…?) they’ll find you anyway.

  16. FrugalFreak says:

    no way to search by name I see. Do they REALLY want to give it back?

  17. catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

    if the owners can’t be found, it would be nice [but unrealistic] if they could pass it on the USPS.

  18. Sanshie says:

    They have our refund. We’ve lived in the same place for 13 years. They could find us if they really wanted to. After establishing that they claim to have sent the check, the only way to ask them about it is to fill out their forms and throw them into the IRS black hole. I agree, a search by name function would be helpful. And yes, we should investigate direct deposit.

  19. bugalaman says:

    who in the hell uses checks?

  20. soj4life says:

    We had to pay $500 a year ago because I had to cash out stock when my employer was bought, I can use that money.