IRS owes millions for mail mixup

Nothing strikes fear into the heart of a procrastinator more than when the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is mentioned. Notorious for its intense investigation tactics, the IRS is the U.S. Government agency responsible for tax collection and tax law enforcement. Simply put, the group makes sure taxpayers are paying their taxes.

The IRS reported last Tuesday that $73 million in tax refunds were due to over 84,000 people because the checks did not reach their destination this year. The thousands of taxpayers could claim their checks if they would just tell the IRS where they live.

Taxpayers who change their names after a marriage or divorce can sometimes encounter problems with mailed refunds.

“It’s understandable that there’s such a large amount of missing monies because of the hurricane devastation in Louisiana. There’s no way anyone could find all of those people and get them their money. It is impossible,” said April Floyd, an H&R Block employee from Palm Beach.

The average amount of an unclaimed refund check is $871. In some cases, taxpayers are due more than one check.

Due to hurricane Katrina many checks have come up missing. The IRS said it would attempt to distribute replacement checks to those living in the Gulf Coast if the original checks cannot be found.

“It’s not fair of the IRS to act like that,” said Maurice Bucknor, a freshman pharmacy student from Fort Lauderdale. Bucknor has received his income tax returns for the 2004-2005 tax year, yet he understands the plight of those affected by the situation. “The IRS are quick to track down people no matter where they are when they don’t pay taxes, but now it’s all of a sudden hard to locate people just because they moved.”

New replacement checks are not printed until a taxpayer claims the refund and provides a current address.

The IRS says its computer system will identify new addresses and generate new refund checks.

“I’m sure that the IRS will find the rightful owners of the misplaced checks. They seem to have a way of finding out the truth in the end,” said Gabrielle McMahan, a freshmen business student from Springfield, MD.

A toll-free IRS hotline, (866) 562-5227, has been set up for those residents to track down a missing check. Taxpayers can also check the IRS Web site, to track the status of their refund checks. The link is titled Where’s My Refund?

Contact Christopher Wan at