Unclaimed Tax Refunds

Pre-summer greetings everyone!

With summer right around the corner, and tax season in the rear-view mirror, it truly is one of the best times of the year. Hopefully all of you have either exciting summer vacation plans….or perhaps a much needed relaxing break is in store for you. Whatever the case may be, take advantage of it and make the most of it.

This month’s edition of E-news involves turning over rocks and perhaps finding a nice surprise. Did you know that the Internal Revenue Service has over 917 Million dollars of unclaimed refunds from 2009 alone? Of this number, approximately 12 million is unclaimed by Oregon residents. What drives this phenomenon? Many of these unclaimed refunds are due to the fact that a taxpayer is in the situation where they are not required to file a tax return due to zero tax liability. This can exist if a taxpayer only makes about 9,000-10,000 dollars of income. If the taxpayer has federal withholding, the IRS WILL NOT refund the money unless a tax return is filed.

Another scenario is when a refund check is returned to the Internal Revenue Service and they do not have a valid address to send it to. With the average family moving every 5-7 years, this becomes more common than one would imagine. It is very important to keep the IRS up to date with your address.

How does one find out if they have an unclaimed refund? Depending on the cause, you have two options.

  • If you never filed a tax return, it may be as simple as filing it if you have federal withholding.
  • If you filed your tax return and are not sure if you ever got the refund, you can access the Internal Revenue site “Where’s my Refund” to check on the status of an old refund., where you will simply need your social security number, filing status and amount of refund.
  • And of course you can always contact the IRS to get information.

Below is the link for “Where’s my Refund” with the IRS.


If you have any of the above situations with the IRS, dimes to donuts you have the same situation with the state. Although many of you reside outside of Oregon, most of you are within the Beaver State, so I will use Oregon as my example. Most (if not all) states have an unclaimed refund website. In Oregon’s case, they literally list the names of people who have unclaimed income tax refund checks. You simply click on the link below and look for your name. If you find it, then the next step would be to contact the state.


If you have any questions on this topic, or any other tax matter, feel free to give me a call. I wish everyone a wonderful beginning of summer and a Happy Mother’s Day to all the Moms out there. A special Mother’s Day wish to my Mom….Carol Baker!