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Your Tax Refund Could Be in the Dead Letter Office

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GREENSBORO — If your 1997 tax refund check hasn't arrived yet, there could be a good reason -- the IRS can't find you.

More than 2,000 taxpayers in North Carolina, and another 1,500 in South Carolina, have yet to receive their refunds.

According to J.R. Starkey, the IRS District Director for the Carolinas, "Either the person moved and left no forwarding address, the last name was changed during the year and IRS was not notified, or the address on the return was not legible enough to process the refund."

And it's not small change. Approximately $1.5 million due North Carolinians and $873,000 due South Carolinians is waiting to be claimed.

If you have moved since filing your last income tax return, IRS urges you to file Form 8822, Change of Address, which can be obtained in three ways. You can call 1-800-829-3676; you can use the handset on your fax machine and dial 1-703-368-9694; or you can access the IRS website at www.irs.ustreas.gov.

"One sure way to avoid the possibility of lost, stolen or undeliverable refund checks is by electing direct deposit," Starkey said.

Last year, 19.2 million taxpayers nationwide chose that option by completing two extra lines on their tax return.

If you are due a refund, you may call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040. Tax assisters are available from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

Beginning in January 1999, IRS phone lines will be open for assistance 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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Kay Miller, Web Editor

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