According to the IRS, if you haven’t filed your taxes in the last few years, the opportunity to claim previous refunds is closing.
According to the government, approximately 1.5 million people have unclaimed refunds from tax year 2019, totaling about $1.5 billion with a median amount of $893. The deadline for filing and collecting 2019 refunds is July 17.
Typically, there is a three-year limit for claiming refunds for unfiled returns before the money becomes the property of the United States Treasury. That date usually coincides with the federal tax filing deadline. However, because of the COVID-19 epidemic, there is additional time in 2019.
“The 2019 tax returns came due during the pandemic, and many people may have overlooked or forgotten about these refunds,” IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel said in a statement. “We want taxpayers to claim these refunds, but time is running out.”
Werfel believes that since the 2019 tax deadline was delayed until July, many Americans, especially lower-income individuals such as students and part-time employees, may have overlooked the file.
“People get scared and think it’s going to be harder than it really is,” said certified financial planner John Chichester Jr., founder and CEO of Chichester Financial Group in Phoenix. “And they don’t realize that they’re leaving money on the table.”
For example, low- to moderate-income employees may be eligible for the earned income tax credit, which gives tax relief even if there is no amount owed.
However, for employees with a very straightforward tax position, such as W-2 income and no company, “it’s quite easy to file your taxes,” according to Chichester, a certified public accountant.
Where to begin with unfiled 2019 returns
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by an unfiled tax return, experts recommend collecting documentation first.
“Taxpayers can request copies of tax documents from employers and other sources like loan service providers,” said Kathy Pickering, chief tax officer for H&R Block. “Sometimes documents were provided electronically and are still available on demand.”
She also said that you may obtain previous tax paperwork via your IRS online account.