The Internal Revenue Service announced today that unclaimed federal income tax refunds totaling more than $1 billion may be waiting for an estimated 1 million taxpayers who did not file a 2013 federal income tax return. To collect the money, taxpayers must file a 2013 tax return with the IRS no later than this year's tax deadline, Tuesday, April 18.
"We’re trying to connect a million people with their share of 1 billion dollars in unclaimed refunds for the 2013 tax year,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “People across the nation haven’t filed tax returns to claim these refunds, and their window of opportunity is closing soon. Students and many others may not realize they’re due a tax refund. Remember, there’s no penalty for filing a late return if you’re due a refund.”
The IRS estimates the midpoint for potential refunds for 2013 to be $763; half of the refunds are more than $763 and half are less.
In cases where a tax return was not filed, the law provides most taxpayers with a three-year window of opportunity for claiming a refund. If they do not file a return within three years, the money becomes the property of the U.S. Treasury. For 2013 tax returns, the window closes April 18, 2017. The law requires taxpayers to properly address mail and postmark the tax return by that date.
The IRS reminds taxpayers seeking a 2013 refund that their checks may be held if they have not filed tax returns for 2014 and 2015. In addition, the refund will be applied to any amounts still owed to the IRS, or a state tax agency, and may be used to offset unpaid child support or past due federal debts, such as student loans.
By failing to file a tax return, people stand to lose more than just their refund of taxes withheld or paid during 2013. Many low-and-moderate income workers may have been eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). For 2013, the credit was worth as much as $6,044. The EITC helps individuals and families whose incomes are below certain thresholds. The thresholds for 2013 were:
- $46,227 ($51,567 if married filing jointly) for those with three or more qualifying children;
- $43,038 ($48,378 if married filing jointly) for people with two qualifying children;
- $37,870 ($43,210 if married filing jointly) for those with one qualifying child, and;
- $14,340 ($19,680 if married filing jointly) for people without qualifying children.