The Internal Revenue Service estimates that there is almost $1.5 billion in unclaimed refunds from tax year 2019, but the deadline to secure that money is nearing.
Taxpayers have until July 17 to submit a tax return and get the money they are owed. The IRS said in a news release that the average median refund for that year is $893.
“The 2019 tax returns came due during the pandemic, and many people may have overlooked or forgotten about these refunds,” said IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel. “We want taxpayers to claim these refunds, but time is running out. People face a July 17 deadline to file their returns. We recommend taxpayers start soon to make sure they don’t miss out.”
The three years allotted for filing a tax return and collecting a refund were extended past the April tax deadline because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Any funds that aren’t claimed by the deadline will belong to the U.S. Treasury.
“The three year limit by itself isn’t anything new, but the IRS deadline has extra importance this year because tax year 2019 returns were filed right as the pandemic hit and shut down tax offices,” tax attorney Adam Brewer told Nexstar.
“I suspect the IRS owes money to taxpayers in two camps – those that were so impacted by the pandemic that they never filed and those that filed paper returns that were never processed by the IRS. No matter what side you find yourself on, file a return by the deadline, send it certified so you can confirm it was received, and be persistent if you don’t hear back from the IRS.”
This year the IRS broke out the data to show which states have the highest potential refunds awaiting taxpayers:
The IRS also reminded taxpayers that they may have missed out on certain credits that they would have received had they filed, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, which can be worth as much as $6,557. The credit is designed to aid individuals and families with income below a certain level.
“With the pandemic taking place when the 2019 tax returns were originally due, people faced extremely unusual situations. People may have simply forgotten about tax refunds with the deadline that year postponed all the way into July,” Werfel said.
“We frequently see students, part-time workers and others with little income overlook filing a tax return and never realize they may be owed a refund. We encourage people to review their records and start gathering records now, so they don’t run the risk of missing the July deadline.”
Keep in mind, however, that if you file in order to get a 2019 tax refund your check may be held up if you haven't filed in 2020 or 2021. Furthermore, refund money will be applied to offset any money owed to the IRS or state tax agencies. It also may be used to pay owed child support or federal debts, such as student loans.