IRS has $1.3B in unclaimed refunds for people: How to claim yours

National

WASHINGTON (ABC4) – Did you file a 2017 Form 1040 federal income tax return? If you didn’t, your refund may be part of the $1.3 billion the Internal Revenue Service is holding on to.

The IRS says the refunds are awaiting an estimated 1.3 million taxpayers that did not file federal income tax returns in 2017.

“The IRS wants to help taxpayers who are due refunds but haven’t filed their 2017 tax returns yet,” says IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “Time is quickly running out for these taxpayers. There’s only a three-year window to claim these refunds, and the window closes on May 17. We want to help people get these refunds, but they will need to quickly file a 2017 tax return.”

Half of the refunds are more than $865, according to IRS estimates.

Current law says that, in cases where a federal income tax return was not filed, most taxpayers have a three-year window of opportunity to claim a tax refund. If they do not file a tax return within that timeframe, the money becomes the property of the U.S. Treasury.

If you did not file a 2017 federal income tax return, you have until May 17, 2021, to file. According to the IRS, the law requires taxpayers to properly address, mail, and ensure the return is postmarked by that date.

What happens when you – and don’t – file a 2017 return

Taxpayers seeking a 2017 tax refund may have their checks withheld if they have not filed tax returns for 2018 and 2019, according to the IRS. Any 2017 refund will be applied to amounts still owed to the IRS or a state tax agency, the IRS explains, and may be used to offset unpaid child support or past due federal debts like student loans.

If you fail to file a tax return, you are at risk to lose more than just your refund of taxes withheld or paid during 2017.

The IRS says many low- and moderate-income workers may be eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit, which helps individuals and families whose incomes are below certain thresholds. For 2017, that credit was worth as much as $6,318.

Thresholds for 2017 were:

  • $48,340 ($53,930 if married filing jointly) for those with three or more qualifying children;
  • $45,007 ($50,597 if married filing jointly) for people with two qualifying children;
  • $39,617 ($45,207 if married filing jointly) for those with one qualifying child, and;
  • $15,010 ($20,600 if married filing jointly) for people without qualifying children.

Current and prior-year tax forms – like 2017 Form 1040, 1040A, and 1040EZ – and instructions are available on the IRS’s website or by calling toll-free 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

If you are missing Forms W-2, 1098, 1099 or 5498 for the years 2017, 2018 or 2019 should request copies from their employer, bank, or other payer.

If you are unable to get missing forms from your employer or other payer, you can order a free wage and income transcript at IRS.gov using the ‘Get Transcript Online’ tool. You can also file Form 4506-T to request a wage and income transcript.

A wage and income transcript shows data from information returns received by the IRS, such as Forms W-2, 1099, 1098, Form 5498, and IRA contribution information. Taxpayers can use the information from the transcript to file their tax returns.

First-time filers, EIP eligible

The IRS says first-time filers and those who usually don’t have a federal filing requirement that they must file a 2020 tax return to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit, if they were eligible but did not receive the first or second Economic Impact Payment, or received less than the full amounts.

There are free options to prepare and file a return at How to File on IRS.gov.

Taxpayers who received the full amounts of both EIPs cannot claim the RRC and should not include any information about the payments on their 2020 tax return.

State-by-state estimates of individuals who may be due 2017 income tax refunds

State or DistrictEstimated Number of IndividualsMedian Potential RefundTotal Potential Refunds*
Alabama21,700$848$21,542,300
Alaska5,000$960$5,527,400
Arizona32,900$766$30,655,500
Arkansas12,600$811$12,150,900
California132,800$833$129,793,500
Colorado27,000$813$26,020,400
Connecticut13,200$928$13,945,100
Delaware5,200$853$5,254,600
D.C.3,600$878$3,765,500
Florida89,600$870$89,767,400
Georgia46,300$791$44,234,300
Hawaii7,600$913$7,827,400
Idaho6,200$727$5,572,300
Illinois49,000$901$50,355,300
Indiana30,800$894$31,291,100
Iowa13,500$922$13,851,800
Kansas13,400$865$13,313,500
Kentucky17,700$875$17,612,600
Louisiana21,700$837$21,659,900
Maine5,300$853$5,158,000
Maryland26,700$872$27,241,700
Massachusetts28,000$978$30,469,100
Michigan43,100$863$43,189,300
Minnesota20,400$808$19,400,200
Mississippi11,800$776$11,087,800
Missouri30,500$831$29,778,200
Montana4,400$808$4,255,500
Nebraska7,200$853$6,982,000
Nevada15,500$845$15,310,600
New Hampshire5,900$968$6,391,000
New Jersey34,200$924$35,778,700
New Mexico9,000$837$8,913,100
New York66,700$956$71,361,600
North Carolina43,500$837$42,307,200
North Dakota3,600$958$3,779,100
Ohio48,700$852$47,892,500
Oklahoma19,800$869$19,890,300
Oregon21,200$765$19,733,900
Pennsylvania50,900$931$52,861,200
Rhode Island3,600$921$3,792,500
South Carolina16,800$768$15,740,900
South Dakota3,600$912$3,665,500
Tennessee27,100$851$26,534,100
Texas133,000$904$138,355,200
Utah11,100$771$10,251,900
Vermont2,600$852$2,505,200
Virginia36,600$827$36,159,900
Washington36,900$928$38,924,900
West Virginia6,400$946$6,769,600
Wisconsin18,900$798$17,759,900
Wyoming3,100$944$3,273,400
Totals1,345,900$865$1,349,654,800
* Excluding credits.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Utah Coronavirus

More Coronavirus Updates

IN FOCUS

More In Focus

Justice Files

More Justice Files