Your Tax Return Check was LOST or STOLEN! What Next?
Lost Refund Checks
Lost checks are, indeed, frustrating, but it does happen. “Where’s My Refund?,” the popular Internet-based service used by taxpayers to check on their federal income tax refunds, now offers a safe and easy way to trace refund checks and even update a flawed mailing address.
These enhancements allow taxpayers to start a trace for lost or missing refund checks and notify the Internal Revenue Service of an address change when a refund check goes undelivered without having to go through the hassle of waiting on the phone to get through to the IRS. “This new feature lets taxpayers take quick and easy steps to track down a lost refund,” said IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson. “It can reduce headaches for nearly 88,000 taxpayers who wind up with undelivered refund checks each year.”
Taxpayers securely access their personal refund information through IRS.gov, the agency’s Web site. They enter their Social Security number, filing status and the exact amount of their refund. These shared secrets — data known only to the taxpayer and IRS — verify the person is authorized to access the account and make it possible to avoid delays in tracing refunds and changing an address.
If you choose not to use the process noted above, the first step you need to take is to contact the IRS by calling 800-829-1954. If your return was filed as “married filing jointly”, however, you must choose to speak with an agent rather than going through the automated system to make the claim.
At this point, the IRS will issue a Taxpayer Statement Regarding Refund form (Form 3911), which will begin the replacement process. You can download the form using the link above.
Once the missing refund has been processed and the check cashed, you will receive a claim package including a copy of the check from the Bureau of Fiscal Services. The IRS will examine both the signature on the check and the claim before deciding whether to process an additional refund. The review process may take up to six weeks.
Stolen Refund Checks
Before you panic believing the check has been stolen in the mail, you should either check your refund status at “Where’s My Refund? online or call 800-829-4477 to verify that your refund has, in fact, been issued and mailed to you. You will need to know your social security number and the exact amount of the expected refund with either option.
If you believe your check has been stolen, call the number above, and provide the information required. You must typically wait 28 days from the date the check was mailed in order to file a claim, once you do, the process can begin Uncle Sam can begin the process of re-issuing your refund.
One simple way to guard again a lost or stolen refund check is to have it automatically deposited to one of your bank accounts when you fill out your tax return. You can even have it split into different bank accounts if you choose. Another HUGE benefit of this form of refund is that your money is deposited much sooner than a paper check is issued and mailed to you– sometimes several weeks earlier. In fact, if you e-file early and have your refund send to your bank, your refund could be deposited within 14 days of the IRS accepting your return. The longer you wait to file, the longer the deposit time will take, but it is still much quicker than a check in the mail.
If you have questions or concerns about your options if your tax refund check has been lost or stolen, we’re available to walk you through the actions you should take next. Give Bressler & Company a call at 559.924.1225.