Unclaimed refunds totaling more than $1.3 billion are awaiting nearly 1.4 million people who did not file a federal income tax return for 2006, the Internal Revenue Service announced today. However, to collect the money, a return for 2006 must be filed with the IRS no later than Thursday, April 15, 2010.
The IRS estimates that the median unclaimed refund for tax-year 2006 is $604.
In Hawaii, there are 9,500 people with $10,658,000 due to be returned to them from the IRS, at an average of $668 per person.
Some people may not have filed because they had too little income to require filing a tax return even though they had taxes withheld from their wages or made quarterly estimated payments. In cases where a return was not filed, the law provides most taxpayers with a three-year window of opportunity for claiming a refund. If no return is filed to claim the refund within three years, the money becomes property of the U.S. Treasury.
For 2006 returns, the window closes on April 15, 2010. The law requires that the return be properly addressed, mailed and postmarked by that date. There is no penalty for filing a late return qualifying for a refund. Though back-year tax returns cannot be filed electronically, taxpayers can still speed up their refunds by choosing to have them deposited directly into a checking or savings account.
The IRS reminds taxpayers seeking a 2006 refund that their checks will be held if they have not filed tax returns for 2007 or 2008. In addition, the refund will be applied to any amounts still owed to the IRS and may be used to satisfy unpaid child support or past due federal debts such as student loans.
By failing to file a return, people stand to lose more than refunds of taxes withheld or paid during 2006. For example, most telephone customers, including most cell-phone users, qualify for the one-time telephone excise tax refund. Available only on the 2006 return, this special payment applies to long-distance excise taxes paid on phone service billed from March 2003 through July 2006. The government offers a standard refund amount of $30 to $60, or taxpayers can base their refund request on the actual amount of tax paid. For details, see the Telephone Excise Tax Refund page on IRS.gov.
In addition, many low-and-moderate income workers may not have claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The EITC helps individuals and families whose incomes are below certain thresholds, which in 2006 were $38,348 for those with two or more children, $34,001 for people with one child and $14,120 for those with no children. For more information, visit the EITC Home Page.
Current and prior year tax forms and instructions are available on the Forms and Publications page of IRS.gov or by calling toll-free 1-800-TAX-FORM (1-800-829-3676). Taxpayers who are missing Forms W-2, 1098, 1099 or 5498 for 2006, 2007 or 2008 should request copies from their employer, bank or other payer. If these efforts are unsuccessful, taxpayers can get a free transcript showing information from these year-end documents by calling 1-800-829-1040, or by filing Form 4506-T, Request for Transcript of Tax Return, with the IRS.
‘David Tucker is with the IRS’