December 31, 2004, marks the end of another tax year. Citizens will begin gathering their W-2s and other paperwork to prepare for tax time, and many of us are hoping to receive a refund this year.

Did you know that some citizens income tax refunds get lost in the shuffle when they move and change addresses? Others may not have received their refund checks because their addresses weren’t clearly written on their tax forms.

The IRS estimates there are 87,485 undelivered income tax refunds nationwide totaling more than $73 million. According to the agency, Louisiana citizens are owed around 1,100 refund checks totaling more than $850,000. The national average amount of an undelivered refund check is $836 and the average in Louisiana is $712.

The Louisiana Department of the Treasury is working to make information about federal income tax refunds more accessible to the public. The Treasury has posted the names of Louisiana citizens who were not able to collect income tax refunds this year on its website, located at www.latreasury.com.

Taxpayers can access the list by clicking Federal Unclaimed Property Information from the Treasury’s main unclaimed property search page. Anyone who sees his or her name can link directly to the Wheres My Refund online service of the IRS, or call the agency toll-free at 1-800-829-1040.

In addition, the IRS says that you can avoid having an undelivered tax refund again next tax year by updating your income tax records with your correct address using forms available at www.irs.gov. Also, the agency suggests using direct deposit of an income tax refund into a checking or savings account to minimize the chance of missing out on a refund.

If you think you might have an undelivered income tax refund, you owe it to yourself to check and see. Think of it this way. If you got a $700 bonus from your employer, would you give it to the federal government just for fun? Essentially that’s what you’re doing when you do not collect your income tax refund. Chances are you need that money more than the federal government does.