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The Internal Revenue Service is holding more than $600,000 in unclaimed tax refunds and stimulus checks for Montanans, and IRS officials want to find taxpayers who are owed money. Unclaimed refunds for Montanans average $723; unclaimed stimulus checks average $521.

IRS officials recently issued a list of more than 1,000 people in Montana whom the IRS can't locate. Jean Carl, an IRS official in Denver, said the agency sent out checks earlier this year but some were returned as undeliverable.

Carl urged people on the list to update their addresses by the end of November so that the IRS can mail the stimulus checks by the end of December. She said the IRS can't mail any checks after Dec. 31.

"We really need to hear from them by the end of the month," she said. "A lot of people filled out tax returns just to get a stimulus check."

Carl speculated that the IRS couldn't read some of the addresses properly or that people had moved. She said tax refunds can carry over and be claimed in the next tax year, but the stimulus payments may not work that way. Carl said taxpayers can try to claim the stimulus money on their next tax return, but there's no guarantee that they'll receive the same amount as they are owed now.

"The economic stimulus package payments have got to be picked up by the end of this year," she said.

People who may be owed money from the IRS can check the agency's Web site at www.irs.gov, then click on the "Where's My Stimulus Payment" tool. Or try calling the IRS at 866-234-2942.

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