Most Important Thing Taxpayers Forget? Their Refund


NEW YORK (MainStreet) — You're all set for filing your 2013 taxes, but there's a nagging suspicion that you've forgotten something. What could it be? A past tax refund. The IRS says there is nearly $760 million in refunds waiting to be issued to nearly a million taxpayers, half of which are worth more than $571.

How could that be? The IRS estimates 918,600 taxpayers who are owed a tax refund didn't submit a tax return for 2010, and the deadline for filing that return and claiming a Treasury check is Tuesday, April 15, 2014.

How can a tax refund go forgotten? The IRS says some people may have not submitted a return in 2010, because they had too little income and weren't required to file. However, they may have had taxes withheld from wages or even made quarterly estimated payments, so a refund is waiting. But the law allows only a three-year window for most taxpayers to claim a refund. If they miss the deadline, the money becomes property of the U.S. Treasury.

"We encourage students, part-time workers and others who haven't filed for 2010 to look into this before time runs out on April 15," says IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.

Surprisingly, there is no penalty for filing a late return qualifying for a refund.

If such "forgetfulness" is a recurring fault and you haven't filed a return for 2011 or 2012 either, your 2010 refund check may be held until those returns are completed. Of course any year's refund can be applied to amounts owed to the IRS or a state tax agency, and may be also be used to offset unpaid child support or past due federal debts, such as student loans.

The IRS says it is also common for many low- and moderate-income taxpayers to neglect claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) which for 2010 was worth as much as $5,666. That could boost the amount of any unclaimed refund.

Current and prior year tax forms and instructions are available on the Forms and Publications page of, or by making a free call to 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676). Taxpayers who are missing Forms W-2, 1098, 1099 or 5498 for 2010, 2011 or 2012 should request copies from their employer, bank or other payer.

--Written by Hal M. Bundrick for MainStreet

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