Time running out for taxpayers to claim nearly 300,000 in undelivered tax rebates

Tuesday, October 30th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Nearly 300,000 rebate checks from this summer's big tax cut went undelivered and time is running short for taxpayers to claim them.

Charles Rossotti, the Internal Revenue Service commissioner, said Tuesday that taxpayers who do not claim their checks by Dec. 5 will have to wait for the money until they file their 2001 income tax returns next year. The checks cannot go out after Dec. 31 and the IRS needs a few weeks of processing time.

About 295,000 rebate checks worth $95 million were returned to the IRS, frequently because a taxpayer moved to a new address or changed the last name, often because of marriage. The undelivered checks are worth an average of $322 apiece.

``All we need is a good address,'' Rossotti said. ``As soon as we get the correct address, we'll send the check on its way.''

People who believe they are due a check can call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040. Taxpayers can also notify the IRS about a new address by filing Form 8822, which can be downloaded from the agency's Internet Web site.

The checks of $300 for individuals, $500 for heads of households and $600 for married couples represented this year's payment for creation of a new 10 percent income tax bracket as part of the 10-year, $1.35 trillion tax cut signed into law by President Bush in June.

The checks returned to the IRS represent only a fraction of 1 percent of the 85 million that have been mailed out.

The IRS also has 95,500 regular tax refunds worth $88.5 million on hand from this year and previous years that have not been delivered. Those refunds are worth an average of $927 each, Rossotti said.

The IRS says the best way for taxpayers to ensure they receive payments is to have them deposited directly in a bank account _ although that option wasn't available for the rebate checks. In 2001, about 34 million taxpayers used the direct deposit option for their regular refunds.