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Today's July retail sales report shows what we've been saying for some time--people seem to be spending their government stimulus checks on necessities such as food and gas, and not on shopping sprees.

President Bush's economic stimulus program--which doled out up to $600 per person to over 130 million households--might not have had the desired impact on the economy, but an extra $600 bucks surely helped your bottom line, right?

What's that you say...you haven't gotten your stimulus check yet?

Well, if you filed your 2007 tax return--which you must do in order to be eligible--more than 8-12 weeks ago, it's time to track down your missing money. Maggie B., one of our Dolans.com readers, followed the advice we're about to give you and discovered her stimulus check was collecting dust at the IRS because it was returned as "undeliverable" by the post office.

So take 5 minutes right now to visit www.irs.gov and click on the button right smack in the middle of the screen that says "Stimulus Package."

We're shocked to hear ourselves saying this, but the IRS has put together pretty useful, easy-to-understand information that can help you track down your check. The most common reason people don't receive their checks is because the check was returned to the IRS as undeliverable.

And that doesn't just apply to this year's stimulus checks. The IRS is holding BILLIONS of dollars of unclaimed tax refunds. In 2006 alone, the IRS owed a whopping $110 million in refunds to more than 155,000 people they couldn't find!

So download Form 8822, which is the IRS' official change of address form, right from that main stimulus package web page and find out if you have any unclaimed refunds coming to you.

The site also lists all the eligibility rules and reasons why you might not have received a check (for example, Uncle Sam kept it to pay back taxes you owed). The IRS will even put a trace on your check to help you track it down if it's been more than 8 weeks since you filed your return.

(By the way, if you haven't filed your 2007 tax return, it's NOT too late! You have until October 15th to file and still be eligible for your rebate. After that, say sayonara to a quick 600 bucks.)

Like the idea of finding lost money you didn't even know you had? We can show you more where that came from! Check out our new video, How to Find "Missing" Money at Dolans.com.

Personal finance experts Ken and Daria Dolan help people like you learn to save more, spend less and live richly at Dolans.com.


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