It’s holiday time — and have you received your tax return yet?
While that’s not typically on most people’s to-do list, thousands of Ohioans are owed tax refunds by the Internal Revenue Service. The problem is the IRS can’t find them.
Sen. Sherrod Brown said Wednesday that each year, the IRS has thousands of undelivered tax returns. In 2011, more than 2,000 Ohioans had unclaimed tax returns averaging more than $1,500. Typically, inaccurate addresses cause refund checks to be returned.
The IRS said it is looking to return $153.3 million in undelivered refunds to 99,123 taxpayers. The number was not separated by state.
“Middle class families can’t afford to leave one cent on the table, but that has happened because people don’t know the IRS has their money,” Brown said during the conference call Tuesday.
Undelivered tax returns often are highlighted by the IRS or government official, but this year the IRS is not releasing names of people who have undelivered tax refunds, citing privacy concerns.
Brown was asked whether this would make it more difficult for checks to reach their owner.
“I think the IRS weighed this issue and it came down on the side of privacy. I assume some people saw a neighbor’s name [on a list] and called them and the neighbor wasn’t happy about it,” Brown said.
IRS officials can be reached by phone at 800-829-1954 or people may go online to www.irs.gov and look under “Where’s My Refund?” to see if they are owed money.
Spokeswoman Jennifer Jenkins said the IRS did not compile a public listing of undelivered refunds because of “increased concerns about protecting taxpayer privacy by having a person’s name widely circulated.”
She added that a person’s name “can remain public for months and even years after the person receives their undelivered refund. The IRS emphasizes it is continuing to publicize and raise awareness for taxpayers who might be missing a refund, and the IRS has posted information and tips on the ... website.”
The number of undelivered checks is estimated to be less than one-third of 1 percent of the total number of refunds issued.
Brown said Ohioans can take steps to avoid the risk of having an unclaimed refund check, including having refunds deposited directly into a bank account and filing taxes electronically.