Unclaimed income tax refunds totaling almost $1.4 billion may be waiting for an estimated 1.2 million taxpayers who did not file a 2015 Form 1040 federal income tax return, according to the Internal Revenue Service.
To collect the money, these taxpayers must file their 2015 tax returns with the IRS no later than this year’s tax deadline, Monday, April 15, except for taxpayers in Maine and Massachusetts, who have until April 17.
“We’re trying to connect over a million people with their share of $1.4 billion in potentially unclaimed refunds for 2015,” said IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig. “Students, part-time workers and many others may have overlooked filing for 2015. And there’s no penalty for filing a late return if you’re due a refund.”
In cases where a federal income tax return was not filed, the law provides most taxpayers with a three-year window of opportunity to claim a tax refund. If they do not file a tax return within three years, the money becomes the property of the U.S. Treasury. For 2015 tax returns, the window closes April 15, 2019, for most taxpayers. The law requires taxpayers to properly address, mail and ensure the tax return is postmarked by that date.
The IRS reminds taxpayers seeking a 2015 tax refund that their checks may be held if they have not filed tax returns for 2016 and 2017. 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 2015. Many low- and moderate-income workers may be eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). For 2015, the credit was worth as much as $6,242. The EITC helps individuals and families whose incomes are below certain thresholds. The thresholds for 2015 were:
- $47,747 ($53,267 if married filing jointly) for those with three or more qualifying children;
- $44,454 ($49,974 if married filing jointly) for people with two qualifying children;
- $39,131 ($44,651 if married filing jointly) for those with one qualifying child, and;
- $14,820 ($20,330 if married filing jointly) for people without qualifying children.
Current and prior year tax forms (such as the tax year 2015 Form 1040, 1040A and 1040EZ) and instructions are available on the IRS.gov Forms and Publications page or by calling toll-free 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).