How Do I Cash an Old Income Tax Refund Check?

••• check in macro image by Alexey Klementiev from

Income tax refund checks issued by the U.S. Treasury Department become void if not cashed within one year of the issue date. This does not mean, however, that the refund is lost. The Internal Revenue Service has procedures in place to reissue refund checks which have expired due to age, or which have been lost or destroyed before being cashed. The IRS reports that each year millions of dollars in refunds go unclaimed.

Contact the IRS by calling them toll-free at 1-800-829-1954. If the expired or missing check was for the most recent year in which you filed, go online to the IRS “Where’s My Refund?” Web page (see Resources). Enter your name, Taxpayer ID number, filing status and the exact dollar amount of the refund check in order to access the website.

Complete form 3911-Taxpayer Statement Regarding Refund if requested by the IRS. The IRS mails this form to you. It is also available as a PDF document on the IRS website (see Resources). The downloaded form can be completed on your computer and printed for mailing to the IRS. Return the completed form in the envelope provided, or mail it to the IRS service center where you normally file your tax return.

Wait up to six weeks to receive a new refund check. If you have not received a check by that time, contact the IRS by telephone at the number listed in Step 1, or by mail, addressed to the same service center to which you mailed the form 3911.


  • 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.”


About the Author

Mike Frees is an I.T. professional who was first published in the Apollo Computer corporate journal in the 1980s. He has since seen print in fiction magazines, local newspapers and nonprofit newsletters, and has been writing online articles for the past year. He has a bachelor's degree from San Jose State University and a master's degree from the College of Notre Dame.

Photo Credits

  • check in macro image by Alexey Klementiev from