(NEXSTAR) – Over a million Americans could miss out on their share of an estimated $1.5 billion in unclaimed tax refunds, the Internal Revenue Service said Thursday. The refunds are for tax year 2019, so if you didn’t file for some reason in 2020, you could be owed part of those unclaimed funds.
“Time is running out for more than a million people to get their tax refunds for 2019,” said IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel in a news release. “Many people may have overlooked filing a 2019 tax return due to the pandemic. We don’t want people to miss their window to receive their refund.”
By law, taxpayers usually have three years to file their taxes and claim their refund, but if they miss the deadline that money goes to the U.S. Treasury instead.
Usually, the deadline falls around the April tax deadline, but the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the 2020 filing deadline to July 15.
The average tax refund that year was $893, but taxpayers who haven’t filed could stand to receive thousands of dollars more if they qualified for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). That year the EITC, which is designed to help lower-income workers, was worth as much as $6,557.
“We encourage people to check their records and act quickly before the deadline,” Werfel continued. “The IRS has several important ways that people can get help.”
See the top 10 states when it comes to total potential refunds:
|State or District||Est. Number of Individuals||Median Potential Refund||Total Potential Refunds (Excluding credits)|
The IRS recommends starting the filing process as soon as possible so they can gather any necessary documents. Taxpayers should reach out to their employer, bank or other payer for any missing forms – such as W-2, 1098, 1099 or 5498 – for the years 2019, 2020, or 2021.
If there are issues getting the documents from an employer or other payer, taxpayers can order a free wage and income transcript at IRS.gov. Another option is to file for a “wage and income transcript” with the IRS, but that process can take several weeks.
One thing to keep in mind is that checks may be held if taxpayers have not filed tax returns for 2020 and 2021, according to the IRS. Also, refund money will be used first to pay off any outstanding debts to the IRS or a state tax agency. The money may also be used to pay off unpaid child support or past-due federal debts, including student loans.