Mailing address errors are preventing some from getting tax refunds to which they are entitled.
According to Sen. Charles Schumer, more than $14.5 million in refunds are waiting to be claimed by more than 7,200 New Yorkers, including 22 people in Chautauqua County and nine in Cattaraugus County. He said nationwide, the Internal Revenue Service owes almost 100,000 taxpayers about $15.2 million in unclaimed tax refunds because information the IRS has on file does not match addresses of individuals due to receive refunds.
He said the money is "stashed inside coffers of the federal treasury," with the IRS awaiting current information from people who are due the cash so it can be disbursed.
"New Yorkers don't even know they are missing it," said Schumer, who said funds due people do not "disappear into thin air" because address changes are not provided to the IRS, who, he said, sends the tax returns but receives them back.
Chautauqua County refunds total more than $30,000, reports Schumer, with an average refund of about $1,414.
He has set up a new section of his website to help New York families determine if they are owed a refund from the IRS. He said the site links people to the IRS's "where's my refund" site to determine the status of refunds, gets checks out and update mailing information so next year's refund is not delayed.
"It's as if there are 7,200 presents just sitting at the North Pole waiting to get to New York families," he said, adding to get them, one can go on-line to see if they are on the list. He said during the tough economic times, putting the money in people's hands could also provide a boost to the economy since one may use the money to shop.
"A few minutes of web surfing could mean big savings," he said.
"You have to take a few steps to get the money you are owed," said Schumer.
To visit the site, go to www.schumer.senate.gov and look under services for New Yorkers, tax time, or 1-800-829-1954. He said the IRS will keep information such as Social Security numbers, filing status and refund amount, which can be taken from tax returns, confidential.