If you don’t cash your income tax refund check within one year of receiving it, you won’t be able to do so because it expires after that time. The good news is, you can get a new check reissued. Reviewing how to get a replacement for an expired tax refund check will help you avoid mistakes and get your money sooner.
Read More: Where’s My Tax Refund?
Who Issues Refund Checks?
The Internal Revenue Service does not issue refund checks. The IRS processes tax returns and determines whether or not you will get a refund, if you owe any more money or if you are even (meaning you paid all taxes you owed during the year, such as through payroll deductions).
The IRS is an agency of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. The Treasury Department operates a variety of bureaus – the largest of which is the IRS, according to its website. When you get a tax refund, stimulus payment, Social Security or veterans benefits or other money from the U.S. government, it generally comes as a payment from the Treasury Department.
Read More: Who Must File Income Taxes?
What Happens If It Expires?
If you don’t cash a check issued by the Treasury Department within one year, the check expires. This means the Treasury Department will not pay any bank that accepts your check and presents it for payment.
Banks, credit unions and most other check-cashing services know this and won’t cash your check or accept it for deposit. Other businesses won’t let you sign it over and use it as payment for goods or services if it’s more than one year old.
Replacing an Expired Refund Check
If you end up with an expired IRS refund check, you’ll need to apply for a replacement with the IRS. The IRS website directs you to call 800-829-0922 or 800-829-3676 to order the forms and publications you’ll need to request a replacement check. The site directs you to destroy the expired check, but you should make a copy of the front and back of the check in case your letter gets lost or misplaced. This way, you can get any information you need off the check.
You can write to the IRS to get your refund check reissued. Finding the correct address for your letter can be a bit of a scavenger hunt. Start by looking at the front of your refund check. Look for the name of the city that indicates which office you need to write to, before the words “Tax Refund” at the bottom of the check.
Find this information before you call the IRS so they can give you the correct address. If you don’t have a copy of the check, the IRS will use your Social Security Number to find your regional IRS office for contact. Once you’ve made your request by phone or in writing, wait for at least 21 days before you call to ask about the status of your replacement check.
What About Stimulus Checks?
How long do you have to cash a stimulus check before it expires? As with income tax refund checks, the U.S. Treasury issues stimulus checks. If you receive a paper check, you have one year to cash it. If you filed your taxes electronically and previously received a refund by direct deposit into your bank account, the Treasury department has your bank account information and your stimulus payments go to that account.
- The IRS recommends filing your tax return electronically and receiving your refund via electronic funds transfer directly into your bank account. You will receive your refund faster, and avoid the possibility of a misplaced check.
- The IRS website warns, “Don’t fall for scams about your refund. The IRS never initiates email.”
Steve Milano has written more than 1,000 pieces of personal finance and frugal living articles for dozens of websites, including Motley Fool, Zacks, Bankrate, Quickbooks, SmartyCents, Knew Money, Don't Waste Your Money and Credit Card Ideas, as well as his own websites.