Forging a signature on a tax refund check is a serious offence, regardless of whether the person committing the forgery is a stranger or a spouse. A wife who discovers that her husband has signed their tax refund without permission should take quick action to protect her rights and claim her share of the refund. Both the Internal Revenue Service and state tax agencies have procedures for reporting a forged refund check.
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If the husband forged a joint federal tax refund check, the wife should contact the IRS and report the event. The IRS representative will require the caller to provide identifying information before discussing specifics about the return and the status of the check. To make a report regarding a forged check, the representative will request that the caller complete Form 3911. The IRS can mail this form to the taxpayer, but it will be quicker for the wife to obtain a copy of the form from the IRS's website.
IRS Form 3911 "Taxpayer Statement Regarding Refund" is the form used to report a forged refund check. The form requests a variety of information from the taxpayer, including the name and taxpayer identification (Social Security) numbers of both people on the return, mailing address, daytime phone number and information on the tax return. The form also requests a signature to use as an example to compare against the signature on the refund check. Once the IRS receives the form, it will compare the signatures and issue a new check if it determines the original signature is a forgery.
State Tax Refunds
State tax departments have a form similar to IRS Form 3911 for reporting a forged signature on a refund check. If the forged check was a state refund, the wife should contact the state tax department that issued the check to obtain specific information and the proper form to report the forged signature. As with the IRS form, a taxpayer can obtain a copy of the appropriate form from the state tax department's website to reduce the amount of time needed to make the report.
If the husband and wife have a pending divorce, the wife should report the forged tax refund to her attorney. If she does not have an attorney, she should report the information to the court. The attorney or court may be able to get the husband to return the appropriate amount of the refund without completing the IRS investigation procedure. The wife can also report the check forgery to the local police as well as the bank where the husband cashed the check, if she knows this information.
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- The Community Tax Law Project: Tax Issues for Divorced, Separated or Married Individuals
- Internal Revenue Service: Form 3911, Taxpayer Statement Regarding Check Fraud
- State of Colorado: Income Tax - Refund Check Forgeries
- Alabama Society of Enrolled Agents: Where's My Refund?
- Gitlin, Busche & Stetler; Tax Provisions Affecting Family Law; February 2010