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On The Money: Undelivered Refund Checks

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By Mike Luery

California wants to return millions of dollars in tax refunds, but tax collectors have been unable to find thousands of people who deserve them.

It is in fact a $17 million problem for the Franchise Tax Board, which can’t find more than 50,000 folks who are owed refunds. Those checks have never been delivered because many taxpayers have moved without leaving a valid forwarding address. The refunds range from $1 to $39,000.

But are state officials trying their hardest to locate those taxpayers?

“I would say that we do try to make every effort to get this money back in their hands,” said Dan Tahara, a spokesman for the Franchise Tax Board.

Tahara told CBS13, “It’s a matter of the timing. Obviously, we would like to get the money back as soon as possible.”

But the FTB says that with limited resources, it’s difficult to track down everyone who’s entitled to a refund. The best bet they say is to fill out the change-of-address form on the FTB website.

The next step is to establish a direct deposit account with a bank, as nearly 6 million Californians have done. But tax preparers know that direct deposit is not a solution for everyone.

“I would say in January and February of the people that are qualifying for an income credit, we see 60 to 70 percent that don’t have a bank account,” said John Hogg, a franchise owner at Jackson Hewitt.

Many tax preparers can help you set up an account through their bank – so you can get your refund. And even if you missed your refund from years ago, it’s worth contacting the Franchise Tax Board.

“These refunds never expire,” Tahara said, “so whether you’re missing a refund from three years ago to 15 years ago, give us a call, and if we find you do have a refund waiting for you, we can issue that check and get it out to you.”

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