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Tax Refunds - The IRS May Owe You Money

Q U E S T I O N: How do I find out if the IRS owes me money? What is their Web site?

A N S W E R: As tax season is upon us, your question is very timely. The Web site for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is www.irs.gov. In addition to allowing you to check on the status of a tax refund, this site enables you to file your tax return online and access a multitude of information about the IRS, as well as the tax system.

As I reported in my unfound money segment, more than $2.5 billion in unclaimed refunds are awaiting about 1.9 million people who failed to file a 1999 income tax return.

In cases where a return was not filed, the law provides most taxpayers with a three-year window of opportunity for claiming a refund. In order to do so, you must file an income tax return. If a return is not filed within three years, the refund money becomes the property of the U.S. Treasury. For 1999 returns, the window closes about a week from today on April 15, so if you think you have money coming to you, do not let this day pass without taking action.

You can file your income tax return one of two ways, online and by paper. Online filing has many benefits, including earlier notification of a tax refund. Typically, you should know if a refund is coming your way approximately three weeks after you e-file. If you file by paper, you have to wait twice as long as refund information is not available until six weeks after you file.

Approximately 100 million people will be eligible for 2002 tax refunds. If you are one of them, after the appropriate time has elapsed - three to six weeks, depending on how you file - you can check on the status of your refund on the IRS Web site or you can call the Refund Hotline at 1-800-829-1954. You will need to provide your Social Security number, your filing status (single, married filing jointly, married filing separately, etc.) and the exact refund amount.

Just remember, 2002 income tax returns must be filed by April 15, 2003. If you choose to file by paper, make sure your return is properly addressed, postmarked and mailed by this date.

By Mellody Hobson
ABCNews.com (2003)

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