IRS wants to make special delivery

More than five hundred people on the Central Coast — including 81 in San Luis Obispo County — are in the unusual position of having the Internal Revenue Service owe them money.

It is “not exactly man bites dog, but we really do want to return $456,000 in undelivered refunds to 532 Central Coast taxpayers as quickly as possible,” said Jesse Weller of IRS media relations in the Bay Area.

Collectively, county residents affected are owed $59,000.

Nationwide, the IRS is looking to return $164.6 million in undelivered refund checks.

“A total of 111,893 taxpayers are due one or more refund checks that could not be delivered because of mailing address errors,” Weller wrote.

“Our main goal is to help people get the money owed them as quickly as possible,” said Weller. “Those who are missing a refund should update their address with the IRS. That’s all that needs to be done in most cases.”

The best way for a taxpayer to verify whether he or she has a pending refund is go directly to IRS.gov and use the “Where’s My Refund?” tool.

Weller said that undelivered refund checks average $1,471 this year, compared to $1,148 last year; some taxpayers are due more than one check.

“The average dollar amount for returned refunds rose by just over 28 percent this year, possibly due to recent changes in tax law, which introduced new credits or expanded existing credits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit,” he wrote.

If a refund check is returned to the IRS as undelivered, taxpayers can generally update their addresses on their website.

The tool also enables a taxpayer to check the status of his or her refund by submitting a Social Security number, filing status and amount of refund shown on the 2009 return.

The tool will provide the refund status, and in some cases, instructions on how to resolve delivery problems.

The telephone version of “Where’s My Refund?” may be used by calling 800-829-1954.

Weller said the public should be aware that the IRS does not contact taxpayers by e-mail to alert them of pending refunds and that such messages are common in identity-theft scams. The agency urges taxpayers not to release any personal information, reply, open any attachments or click on any links to avoid malicious code that will infect their computers.