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Update address with IRS to avoid delaying refund
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Although the Internal Revenue Service is urging Mississippians to update their addresses by Dec. 5 to receive refund checks, most taxpayers have nothing to worry about.
More than 2,300 income tax refund or advance child tax credit checks totaling more than $946,000 were returned to the IRS this year as undeliverable. But if taxpayers updated their addresses with the U.S. Postal Service, the refund checks should have been delivered to the new address.
"The main reason taxpayers' refund checks are being returned to the IRS is that they failed to file a change of address form with the post office or the IRS," said Sheri Lokken Worthy, an associate professor of human sciences with Mississippi State University's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. "To correct the address, all they need to do is file Form No. 8822 with the IRS, or call the IRS toll-free assistance line."
The IRS change of address form can be found on the Internet at http://www.irs.gov and requires the taxpayer to list the new address information. Alternately, addresses can be updated by calling (800) 829-1040 and providing identification and new address information.
But if a taxpayer's address or name has not changed, there is virtually no reason why a check could not be delivered unless that taxpayer owed money to a government agency.
"Any time you have a refund and owe other state or federal government debt, your refund will be offset, and you will receive a letter notifying you that the refund has been applied to the debt," said Kathy Heidorn, a tax specialist in the IRS' Jackson office. "This includes people who are behind on child support payments or who have student loans that are in default. Any refunds will be offset to cover those debts."
If taxpayers miss the Dec. 5 deadline to update mailing addresses, they simply must wait until their 2003 tax return to receive the advance child credit tax refund. Missing the deadline does not make the taxpayer ineligible to receive the refund.
"If they miss the deadline, they just have to wait and claim it on their 2003 return -- they're not out the money," Heidorn said. "But they do need to be able to tell their tax preparer whether or not they received an advance payment and how much that payment was for."
If taxpayers do update their addresses by the deadline, they can expect to receive their refund check about four weeks after the update.
The Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003 raised the child tax credit from $600 in 2002 to $1,000 in 2003. This $400 difference was sent in advance to taxpayers who would have been eligible to claim that maximum amount on their 2002 returns. Generally, taxpayers must report a minimum income of around $26,600 in order to claim the child tax credit.
Contact: Dr. Sheri Lokken Worthy, (662) 325-0918