I came across this IRS definition of “Last Known Address” which is very important as it outlines how the IRS views your address in their systems and the impact on you if you move and fail to notify the IRS, or if you send back your government mail marked “moved” yet you still live at that address.
I picked out the important parts and the whole document is available if you follow the URL as well.
The IRS and the CRA both view the last known address the same way. If you do not update them with a new address when you move, then the last known address on file is the notice where they will send all government notices including monthly statements, refund cheques and collection / information notices.
It is absolutely in your best interest to keep your address up to date and notify the government if you move. The IRS takes it one step further than the CRA in that the IRS also checks with the US Postal Service to see if you have updated your address, while the CRA follows up returned mail in collection cases with a visit from your local field office to see if you have moved and talk to your neighbours and new owner / tenant for any forwarding information.
If you cannot be located after that, the CRA usually pulls a property search to see if you sold your property and a credit search to see if you moved (you always let your bank know!). The enquiry on your credit report from the CRA should be enough to make you want to update them all by itself.
Here is the IRS regulation;
IRS – Treasury Regulation §301.6212-2: Definition of Last Known Address
This revenue procedure explains how the Internal Revenue Service is informed of a change of address. When so informed, the IRS will update the taxpayer’s address of record to the new address. The IRS uses the taxpayer’s address of record for the various documents that are required to be sent to a taxpayer’s “last known address” under the Internal Revenue Code and for refunds of overpayments of tax. Rev. Proc. 2001-18, 2001-1 C.B. 708, is superseded by this Revenue Procedure.
The Code sections listed in section 3.01 of this revenue procedure use the phrase “last known address.”
The meaning of the phrase “last known address” is important, and taxpayers should be aware of their need to update their address with the IRS in order to receive refunds of tax as well as the notices and documents listed in section 3.01 of this revenue procedure. When a notice or document is sent to a taxpayer’s “last known address,” it is legally effective even if the taxpayer never receives it.
A taxpayer’s “last known address” is defined in Treas. Reg. § 301.6212-2(a) as the address on the taxpayer’s most recently filed and properly processed return, unless the IRS has been given clear and concise notification of a different address.
A taxpayer should take appropriate steps to ensure that his or her address is correct in accordance with the addressing standards of the United States Postal Service
(USPS) and, when providing the IRS with an address, should include all required addressing information, including apartment/suite number, street name and number, city, state, and zip code.
The IRS generally will use the address on the most recently filed and properly processed return as the address of record for all the notices and documents set forth in section 3.01 above. The IRS will, however, automatically update a taxpayer’s address of record based on a new address that the taxpayer provides the USPS that is retained in USPS’s National Change of Address database (NCOA database). See Treas. Reg. § 301.6212-2(b)(2). If a taxpayer wishes to change the address of record, the taxpayer must give clear and concise notification as provided by this revenue procedure. The terms “return,” “properly processed,” “address on return,” and “clear and concise notification” are defined in section 5 below.
If a taxpayer files a return with new address information, the proper processing of the return will update the taxpayer’s address of record. With the exception of the returns listed in section 4.04, a taxpayer’s address of record will be updated for the name and taxpayer identification number (the employer identification number, individual taxpayer identification number, or social security number) under which the return is filed.
If a taxpayer no longer wishes the address of record to be the one shown on the most recently filed return (for example, because the taxpayer moved after the return was filed), clear and concise notification of a change of address as defined in section
5.04 below should be provided to the Service.
If, after a joint return is filed, either taxpayer establishes a separate residence, each taxpayer should provide clear and concise notification of a current address to the Service as provided in section 4.02 above.
The IRS maintains address records for gift, estate, and generationskipping transfer tax returns (Forms 706, 706-A, 706-NA, 709, and 709-A) separate from the address records for individual income tax returns (Forms 1040, 1040-A, 1040-EZ, 1040 (NR), 1040 (PR), 1040-SS, and 1040-X). Thus, an individual taxpayer’s notification of a change of address should identify whether any gift, estate, or generation-skipping transfer tax returns are affected by the notification.
A taxpayer should notify the USPS facility serving the taxpayer’s old address of the taxpayer’s new address so that mail from the Service can be forwarded to the new address. The Service will also automatically update a taxpayer’s address of record based on a new address that the taxpayer provides to the USPS and that the USPS retains in its National Change of Address database. See Treas. Reg. § 301.6212-2(b)(2). Taxpayers are nonetheless advised to notify the Service directly of a change of address to ensure a timely and accurate update of the Service’s address of record for the taxpayer.
If the taxpayer’s last known address is altered due to address reorganization or standardization measures taken by the USPS or a legislative body, the Service will treat the altered address as the taxpayer’s new address of record. Examples of an address reorganization or standardization measures include the redesignation of rural route addresses as street addresses or changes to zip code boundaries. Any clear and concise notification of a different address provided by the taxpayer to the Service subsequent to an address standardization or reorganization shall control over any address changes made pursuant to this section 4.06.
This revenue procedure is effective June 1, 2010.