We got a letter from the IRS stating that we get a substantial refund for a tax withholding.

However, the check never arrived even after waiting for a couple of months.

(On top of that: We live outside of the US)

What is the best way to get the IRS to send the check again?

Is there any way to have them send it again?

Does anyone have any idea how to handle this?

Thanks for any ideas!

  • 6
    Probably best to just give them a call. – Hart CO Oct 16 at 15:45
  • 3
    Just a precautionary, anti-scam question: did the original letter ask you to do something like go to a website and "confirm your details", or send some kind of "administration" fee to "release" the refund? In other words, are you sure this was a real letter from the IRS? – TripeHound Oct 17 at 9:11
  • thanks @TripeHound for the concern. In this case it's for sure a real letter as I initiated the whole refunding process with the help of professional expat tax experts (HRBlock in our case) – Sebastian Oct 17 at 13:25
  • @HartCO I've heard from my tax advisor that the IRS is moving away more and more from the phone service options (esp. for tax advisors I guess). – Sebastian Oct 17 at 16:11
  • 1
    @Sebastian I call them several times each year and get prompt good service so long as it's not March to mid-April, they definitely want to limit calls during that period of time. When it comes to non-citizens or citizens abroad calling seems best. – Hart CO Oct 17 at 16:23
up vote 21 down vote accepted

Try using the IRS tool - Where's My Refund.

You could also create and check your tax account or request an account transcript online or via mail.

These will show you if they have sent the check and when they did. If they have sent it and it is just floating around in space or someone else has cashed it - you will need to go through their refund trace process. You can call their toll-free number and they will help you walk through the steps.

  • thanks for the quick answer! I end up doing the refund trace process but through my expat tax expert helping me along the way. As we are out of the country I am not able to register with the "where's my refund pages" but surely very useful information for anyone else facing these issues! – Sebastian Oct 17 at 16:09

If you were a resident alien you probably had to mail in a printed copy of your return (or HRBlock did this on your behalf) and that takes longer to process.

In my experience, the refund wasn't issued until late september. When I have called them in the past to get a cheque re-issued, there has been some doubt as to whether or not they can mail the cheque internationally (and the two I had reissued and sent overseas never arrived). In the end I was forced to have the cheque sent to someone locally and then forwarded internationally.

One year after the refund failed to arrive, Where's My Refund stops showing the status of the refund and you're forced through the refund trace process.

  • thanks for the answer. This was not even a regular tax filing but the request to get a 10% withholding on a house we sold a few years back. I'm glad that the IRS eventually acknowledged that we are eligible to receive the withholding and didn't miss the time window. I will end up doing the same, i.e. having it sent to a friend in the US and have them UPS abroad. My previous regular IRS tax refunds all arrived safely abroad though. Alas, wish me luck, we're talking 5 figures check here :) .. come to think about it I'd rather have that sent via UPS abroad, worth the extra cost and hassle! – Sebastian Oct 18 at 11:42
  • Good luck.I eventually had to write off a 4-figure sum when the IRS repeatedly failed to be able to send me a cheque to another country. – Maz Oct 19 at 0:29
  • wow.. that's crazy!! Our tax advisor said that the IRS struggles with very long addresses (like 100s of characters) and stuff.. so we will definitely go with sending it continental to a friend and then UPS it abroad. – Sebastian Oct 19 at 8:03

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