Last call for rebate checks: IRS urges taxpayers to act by Dec. 5

NASHVILLE -- The Internal Revenue Service is urging Tennesseans whose advance payment checks ("tax rebates") have been returned as undeliverable by the Postal Service to act now so their checks can be reissued before the legal deadline.
   The agency's list of undelivered checks released earlier this month included nearly 6,000 advance payment checks for Tennesseans; the IRS started issuing the checks originally in July. There is extra urgency for taxpayers to act on these checks by Dec. 5. After that day, taxpayers can't get an advance payment check this year. Instead, they'll have to apply for it after Jan. 1 on their 2001 tax returns.
   The returned advance payment total for Tennessee is $1.8 million -- an average of $309 per check. The returned checks represent less than 2 percent of the checks originally mailed.
   "Taxpayers who want their money this year must contact IRS by Dec. 5," said IRS spokesman Dan Boone. "With the holidays coming up, I'm sure a check would be welcome."
   Taxpayers who think they may be missing an advance payment check should first check their records or contact their tax preparer.
   "For most of these checks, all we need is a good address," Boone said. "As soon as we get the correct address, we'll start the check on its way."
   The added urgency for the advance payments is because the law that authorized the payments says the checks cannot be issued after Dec. 31. That means there won't be enough time to process claims made after Dec. 5. However, those eligible for an advance payment check who don't receive it before the end of the year may be able to claim it as a credit when they file their 2001 tax return starting in January.
   The IRS toll-free number (800-829-1040) is available Monday-Friday from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.