By Jim Donovan

By Jim Donovan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — There is just two more weeks to file your tax returns.  If you’re waiting for the last minute, you better be sure to double and even triple check all of the numbers.  As 3 On Your Side’s Consumer Reporter Jim Donovan finds, even a simple mistake could leave you empty handed.

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When Cynthia Raber filed her tax return in February she was looking forward to getting a hefty refund of around $3,000.  She says, “My daughter got hers, my mother got hers, everybody did theirs at the same time.  I didn’t get mine.”  That’s when Raber noticed a problem with her return.  She says, “My checking account wasn’t right.”   The number that was provided with the return was two digits off, and her refund was deposited in someone else’s bank account!  She says, “It was a mistake and the problem is I’m suffering for it.”

Kay Bell with says when this sort of error occurs, it’s a true pain to get corrected.  She says, “It’s up to the individual tax payer to make sure the account number and routing number are correct.  If you make a mistake and it goes into someone else’s account it’s between you and your bank to figure it out.”

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When Raber alerted her bank, Bank of America, she says they told her they were unsuccessful in reaching the other account owner.  Raber says, “so they’re basically telling me I gifted this man this money.”   Bank of America says it has no legal authority to seize funds on behalf of a taxpayer and that the I.R.S. should be contacted to attempt to resolve the situation.  But the I.R.S. says it “assumes no responsibility for tax preparer or taxpayer error.”

Regardless, Raber says, “I’m not giving up, that’s my money. I worked hard for that.”  She has filed paperwork that allows the I.R.S. to contact the bank on her behalf.  Hopefully that with help.  But the I.R.S. policy says if funds aren’t available or a bank refuses to return the funds.  It can’t compel the bank to do so.

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