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Does the IRS Owe You Money?

Rep. Sherman discusses unclaimed and undelivered tax refunds
Rep. Sherman discusses unclaimed and undelivered tax refunds

Sherman Announces How Los Angeles Residents Can Find Out If They Have Unclaimed Tax Refunds
LA County Has $60 Million in Undelivered & Unclaimed Returns
Plus Tips to Avoid to Tax Scams & Fraud


Congressman Brad Sherman (D - Sherman Oaks) announced that 4,176 taxpayers in Los Angeles County are owed $6,722,735 in tax refunds.* In many instances, the United States Postal Service was unable to deliver refund checks due to mailing address errors. In an effort to assist taxpayers in collecting their tax refunds, Congressman Sherman directed taxpayers to his website www.BradSherman.house.gov. Taxpayers can also contact the IRS directly on the “Where’s My Refund?” hotline by calling 1-800-829-1954.


“For a struggling family, a thousand or even a few hundred dollars can help” said Congressman Sherman. “If there is any chance you have an unclaimed refund, check out our website to learn how to contact the IRS to collect your refund.”

Undelivered Refunds


In California, the top three undeliverable refunds average over $36,000. The average undelivered refund check was $1,610 for Los Angeles County. The Internal Revenue Service owes refunds to over 800 residents in the San Fernando Valley, but their checks were returned to the U.S. Postal Service because some families moved without leaving a forwarding address or the IRS found errors in the taxpayers’ favor, but could not locate the people owed the unexpected windfalls.

If a taxpayer moves after filing his or her tax return and doesn’t leave a forwarding address, the Postal Service returns the check to the IRS.  If a person changes his or her name, perhaps after marriage, and doesn’t notify the Social Security Administration of the name change, then their Social Security number will not properly match in IRS computers.  This can slow or prevent the transfer of old refund checks to them.  And, in the case of deceased taxpayers, some families and executors of estates may not know that they had an unclaimed refund.

Unclaimed Refunds

The paragraphs above focus on “undelivered refunds” – taxpayers who filed their returns but never received their refund. A second category is “unclaimed refunds” – people who never filed their tax returns, but would get a refund if they did. For folks who have not filed, the law allows a three year window for claiming a return before that money becomes property of the US Treasury.

Refunds totaling over $2 billion may be waiting for Americans who did not file a federal income tax return for 2010, 2011, 2012. In California there is an estimated $200 million, and in LA County there is an estimated $60 million in unclaimed refunds payable to roughly 22,000 Angelinos. That is an average of $1,713 dollars per person nationwide.  Many people don’t file returns because they had too little income to require filing a tax return, even though they had income and /or social security taxes withheld from their wages. However many of these people are due significant refunds.

Many low-and-moderate income workers qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit, which can be worth nearly $6,000.  So even if you had zero federal income tax withheld from your paycheck, you may be entitled to a refund.

“I encourage all eligible workers to file a return, said Sherman. “This is your money, and you should take advantage of it.”

Extending the April 15th Deadline

If you need extra time to prepare your return, you can file an extension on IRS form 4868 and California FTB form 3519.

If you need extra time paying your taxes during these hard economic times, you have the option of filing an IRS Form 9465 to request a monthly installment plan (or apply online at http://www.irs.gov).  You can also file a California FTB Form 3561 to request an installment plan for your state taxes.

Scams & Frauds to Avoid:


Identity left comes in many forms. Taxpayers who believe they are at risk of identity theft due to lost or stolen personal information should contact the IRS immediately so the agency can take action to secure their tax account. Taxpayers can call the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490. More information can be found on the special identity protection page at http://www.irs.gov/uac/Identity-Protection

“Phishing” is scam carried out from an unsolicited email or phony website. The IRS does not initiate taxpayer communications through email. Unsolicited email claiming to be from the IRS, should be reported to the IRS at phishing@irs.gov.

***

Congressman Sherman represents half of the San Fernando Valley. Before he was elected to Congress in 1996, Sherman, a CPA, was chairman of the California State Board of Equalization – America’s second largest tax agency.

 

*The dollar amounts in this press release are estimated based on the most recent data available from the IRS


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