The U.S. Department of the Treasury issues checks authorized by federal agencies for payment of benefits or, in the case of the Internal Revenue Service, tax refunds and stimulus checks. If you go a long time without cashing your Treasury check, you'll find that banks will not accept the expired check for cashing or deposit.
Although the U.S. Treasury issues the checks, you must apply to the authorizing agency to reissue the expired IRS refund check or expired stimulus check. The IRS authorizes the Treasury to send a replacement check.
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Basics of Check Expiration Times
Under the Uniform Commercial Code rules, most types of checks will expire after six months, but you might find that your bank will still take a check past this time. This deadline applies to common checks like paychecks and personal checks.
Government checks, on the other hand, tend to have a longer deadline. Treasury checks expire one year after the date of issue, and local and state government refund checks might expire anywhere between six and 12 months.
Write a Letter of Explanation
If your expired IRS refund check or expired stimulus check is more than a year old, you'll need to write a short letter to the IRS that includes the statement "Return of expired check because . . . " and explain that you are returning the check because it has expired. Note the check number and issue date in your letter.
Request that the IRS reissue the check and send a replacement check to you. Include your current mailing address and telephone number.
Void the Expired Check
You'll need to write "void" in large letters on the back of the Treasury check in the endorsement area, which is where you would normally sign the check. Place the expired IRS refund check or expired stimulus check in an envelope for mailing with the letter, but do not bend the check or staple or attach the check to the letter. Affix the correct postage to the envelope.
Send to IRS Mailing Address
Look on the front of the Treasury check to find the name of the city that determines the appropriate IRS mailing address. The name of a city, or its abbreviation, should be printed at the bottom of the check in front of the words, "TAX REFUND." If the Treasury check is for a purpose other than tax refund, note that in your letter.
The IRS document, "Topic 161 - Returning an Erroneous Refund – Paper Check or Direct Deposit" located on the agency's website, lists the nine city names and the corresponding mailing addresses. You may also call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040, and ask for the correct mailing address for returning the expired check.
Check the Status of Your Request
The IRS does not provide a formal process for checking the receipt of a returned Treasury check or the status of a request for a replacement check. However, wait the usual 21 days it takes the IRS to process a refund check before calling to ensure receipt of the letter and check. You can also ask about the replacement check at an IRS office in your area.