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IRS in the giving mood as well

Internal Revenue Service has $1.6 million in unclaimed tax refunds. To get their checks before April 15, residents must contact the agency by Dec. 31.

December 24, 2010|Tom Ragan, tom.ragan@latimes.com

COSTA MESA — The Internal Revenue Service is looking for more than 1,300 Orange County residents — not to collect from them, but to deliver them their uncollected refunds.

In all, 1,349 checks totaling $1.6 million in refunds have gone uncollected in Orange County, with the average refund check amounting to $1,229, said Raphael Tulino, a spokesman for the IRS' Southern California and Nevada region.

"Basically, we can't find them because there's been a change in address," Tulino said. "We've tried to deliver the checks, but they came back undeliverable."

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In Newport Beach and Costa Mesa, there are 111 residents who have not collected their refunds, Tulino said.

Across Southern California, $5.6 million in tax refunds have gone uncollected by 4,596 people, Tulino said. Across the country, 111,893 taxpayers have not collected a combined $164.6 million, he said.

While the problem of trying to find taxpayers to collect unpaid taxes or issue them refunds is nothing new, it's a scenario that's not occurring as much these days because an overwhelming percentage file their tax returns online, Tulino said.

Still, the good news, according to Tulino, is that there is no time limit for taxpayers to collect their refunds. Eventually, he said, they will be paid their refunds when they file next year's tax returns and their new address "kicks in" and is recognized by the system.

But for those who want to make sure their refund check is in the mail and don't want to wait until April 15, they must call or get a hold of the IRS before Dec. 31, Tulino said.

There are a pair of toll free numbers to call: (800) 829-1954, which is the automated hotline or to talk to somebody in person, (800) 829-1040. Or visit

http://www.irs.gov, then look for "Where is my refund?"

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