IRS says nearly $1 billion in unclaimed tax refunds to expire April 15

The Internal Revenue Service estimates that about 1 million Americans who are owed a tax refund don't file a return. The opportunity to file a back return ends after 3 years, when the potential refunds expire.

That means that refunds totaling just over $917 million that have gone unclaimed are about to disappear for as many as 984,400 taxpayers who did not file a federal income tax return for 2009. To collect the money, a back return for 2009 must be filed with the IRS no later than Monday, April 15, 2013.

The IRS estimates that half of the potential refunds for 2009 would be worth more than $500.

Some people may not have filed because they had too little income to require filing a tax return even though they had taxes withheld from their wages or made quarterly estimated payments. In cases where a return was not filed, the law provides most taxpayers with a three-year window of opportunity for claiming a refund. If no return is filed to claim a refund within three years, the money becomes property of the U.S. Treasury.

For 2009 returns, the window closes on April 15, 2013. The law requires that the return be properly addressed, mailed and postmarked by that date.

The IRS notes that there is no penalty for filing a late return qualifying for a refund.

The agency also reminds taxpayers who are seeking a 2009 refund that their checks may be held if they have not filed tax returns for 2010 and 2011. In addition, the refund will be applied to any amounts still owed to the IRS or their 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 return, people stand to lose more than refund of taxes withheld or paid during 2009. In addition, many low-and-moderate income workers may not have claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). For 2009, the credit is worth as much as $5,657. The EITC helps individuals and families whose incomes are below certain thresholds. The thresholds for 2009 were:

  • $43,279 ($48,279 if married filing jointly) for those with three or more qualifying children,
  • $40,295 ($45,295 if married filing jointly) for people with two qualifying children,
  • $35,463 ($40,463 if married filing jointly) for those with one qualifying child, and
  • $13,440 ($18,440 if married filing jointly) for people without qualifying children.

State-by-State List of Individuals Who Did Not File a 2009 Return with a Potential Refund

State or District

Individuals

Median

Potential

Refund

Total

Potential Refunds ($,000)

Alabama

16,000

$565

$13,317,000

Alaska

5,000

$658

$6,107,000

Arizona

24,800

$509

$20,742,000

Arkansas

8,600

$560

$7,289,000

California

100,700

$518

$92,590,000

Colorado

17,900

$556

$16,860,000

Connecticut

12,100

$638

$13,031,000

Delaware

4,000

$561

$3,405,000

District of Columbia

4,200

$595

$4,151,000

Florida

62,700

$577

$60,746,000

Georgia

31,300

$538

$27,409,000

Hawaii

7,200

$599

$7,448,000

Idaho

3,800

$511

$2,984,000

Illinois

39,500

$626

$39,613,000

Indiana

20,300

$592

$17,547,000

Iowa

9,800

$581

$7,893,000

Kansas

9,900

$509

$7,774,000

Kentucky

11,300

$578

$9,552,000

Louisiana

18,700

$592

$17,843,000

Maine

3,700

$505

$2,771,000

Maryland

23,100

$564

$22,780,000

Massachusetts

23,300

$572

$22,756,000

Michigan

30,000

$600

$28,019,000

Minnesota

13,600

$528

$11,480,000

Mississippi

8,700

$529

$7,144,000

Missouri

18,700

$500

$14,674,000

Montana

3,100

$511

$2,529,000

Nebraska

4,600

$543

$3,808,000

Nevada

12,600

$559

$11,058,000

New Hampshire

4,200

$615

$3,891,000

New Jersey

31,600

$642

$33,192,000

New Mexico

7,100

$567

$6,450,000

New York

62,700

$620

$65,277,000

North Carolina

26,200

$503

$21,337,000

North Dakota

1,900

$524

$1,682,000

Ohio

32,100

$561

$26,714,000

Oklahoma

15,200

$573

$13,442,000

Oregon

15,200

$516

$12,253,000

Pennsylvania

38,200

$619

$34,505,000

Rhode Island

3,300

$612

$3,148,000

South Carolina

10,800

$530

$9,347,000

South Dakota

2,100

$546

$1,728,000

Tennessee

16,400

$550

$14,513,000

Texas

86,000

$578

$86,136,000

Utah

6,500

$503

$5,397,000

Vermont

1,700

$551

$1,397,000

Virginia

28,800

$559

$28,027,000

Washington

27,200

$644

$29,807,000

West Virginia

4,100

$598

$3,894,000

Wisconsin

11,500

$505

$9,430,000

Wyoming

2,400

$657

$2,539,000

Totals

984,400

$569

$917,426,000

 

 

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