I sold a house in the US last year and as a non-resident alien there was a federal tax withholding of $4200. I filed form NR1040 to get this tax withholding back. This should have been a simple return. However, when my cheque from the IRS arrived it was for $42 (as in forty two dollars) not $4200 (four thousand two hundred dollars).

They also spelled my name incorrectly on the cheque so I can't even cash the incorrect $42 sum. Everything was clearly typed out for them and I only needed them to get my name and dollar amount correct. They didn't.

We all make admin errors - but the IRS have made it impossible to call them or visit them to correct this error. Any ideas what I should do?

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    They have local offices as well as telephones. Why do you feel it's impossible to call or visit? – JTP - Apologise to Monica May 18 '16 at 20:09
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    First thing I'd do is verify that it wasn't your error that caused the errant values (name and amount). It's possible it was, and if so you can re-file an amended/corrected return, which may be the simplest answer. – Joe May 18 '16 at 20:53

You can write or call the IRS. Writing takes a long time to get an answer though, so you will be better off calling. You'll probably get a long wait on the phone, but, in my experience, when you finally get a person they are often pretty helpful.

One thing in the meantime: Do not cash a check for an improper refund. It's very possible that they are going to want you to void this check and send it back to them before they process a new one. Cashing it will potentially complicate the process. (If you actually talk to them and they say cash it, then go ahead. Don't cash it until you talk to them though.) This is aside from the issues that you're having with the way that your name is written on the check.

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    The good news? We are well after the regular April 15 tax rush. – JTP - Apologise to Monica Jun 10 '16 at 13:44
  • If you did cash the check, it's not too hard to convince them to refund $4200 minus the $42 received. – Joshua Oct 16 '18 at 19:50

From the IRS.gov web site (contains phone number): Helpful tips for effectively receiving a tax refund for taxpayers living abroad

Edit - Here are the IRS contact details from the above link:

To check the status of your refund, go to Where’s My Refund. If the response indicates that your refund checked was mailed, but you do not receive it within 45 days after the mailing date, call the International Taxpayer Service Call Center by phone or fax. The International Call Center is operational Monday through Friday, from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. (Eastern Time). The telephone number (not toll-free) is 267-941-1000. The fax number (not toll-free) is 267-941-1055.

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    Welcome to Personal Finance & Money! Whilst this may theoretically answer the question, it would be preferable to include the essential parts of the answer here, and provide the link for reference. Otherwise your answer is likely to get deleted. – GS - Apologise to Monica Jun 10 '16 at 5:04

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