Treasure Hunter

Today TaxMama hears from Joanna in New York who tells us. “I have been working as a finder, uniting people with their abandoned funds in NY State – funds lost due to inactivity.

These monies consist of insurance funds, NYS Income Tax Checks, mutual funds, inactive bank accounts, etc. My question: What happens to Federal Income Tax checks that have been returned to sender? Is there a federal unclaimed income site also?”

Dear Joanna,

That’s a very interesting career you’ve created for yourself.

The idea of going into IRS records to see if someone has refunds coming to them looks like a great idea, at first glance.

Except that IRS does not publish a list of people’s names and refunds due.

They do publish a list with the number of individuals per state, and the average dollar amount unclaimed. For instance, here’s the most recent list – unclaimed refunds for 2004 – which are no longer collectible after April 15, 2008.,,id=180281,00.html

Taxpayers’ identities are confidential, as far as IRS is concerned.

I find it intriguing that you’re able to get the names of people who are owed state refunds. How is it that a state, like New York, is able to publish a list of taxpayers? Isn’t that an infringement of privacy?
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Yet, here is U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan’s website with a list of North Dakotans who have refunds coming to them.

Perhaps one of your NY Senators can get you a list of names? Incidentally, if they didn’t get their state refund for a given year, odds are, they didn’t get their IRS refund either.

Oh well. No doubt, the people for whom you find all this money must be grateful.
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Many of them could have found the money themselves by just calling IRS, or searching a variety of databases online, like But, if they didn’t, bother – and they were going to lose that money – why shouldn’t you get a cut for saving it for them?

And remember, you can find answers to all kinds of questions about abandoned or unclaimed funds and other tax issues, free.

Where? Where else? At

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  • Ask TaxMama :: Where taxes are fun and answers are free
  • :: The number ONE free tax podcast online
  • :: Individuals Who Failed to File a 2004 Return with an Estimated Refund
  • U.S. Senator Dorgen :: List of North Dakotans with unclaimed IRS refunds
  • MSNBC article :: You might be rich – do your own search!
  • Missing Money :: in association with the NAUPA
  • NAUPA :: National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators

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