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 District||Estimated Number of Individuals||Median Potential Refund||Total Potential Refunds*|