$1 Billion in Tax Refunds to Expire if Not Claimed

The IRS says that more than $1 billion in federal income tax refunds from 2013 has gone unclaimed so far, and will be lost to the nearly 1 million taxpayers who failed to claim them. Taxpayers have three years to file for an income tax refund, after which the funds are lost.

If a taxpayer did not file a tax return in 2013, but believes he or she is owed a federal refund, they can still file a 2013 tax return with the IRS no later than this year's tax deadline, Tuesday, April 18. A tax professional, such as a CPA or EA, can assist with filing prior year returns.

"We’re trying to connect a million people with their share of 1 billion dollars in unclaimed refunds for the 2013 tax year,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “People across the nation haven’t filed tax returns to claim these refunds, and their window of opportunity is closing soon. Students and many others may not realize they’re due a tax refund. Remember, there’s no penalty for filing a late return if you’re due a refund.”

The IRS estimates the midpoint for potential refunds for 2013 to be $763; half of the refunds are more than $763 and half are less.

In cases where a tax return was not filed, the law provides most taxpayers with a three-year window of opportunity for claiming a refund. If they do not file a return within three years, the money becomes the property of the U.S. Treasury. For 2013 tax returns, the window closes April 18, 2017. The law requires taxpayers to properly address mail and postmark the tax return by that date.

The IRS reminds taxpayers seeking a 2013 refund that their checks may be held if they have not filed tax returns for 2014 and 2015. In addition, the refund will be applied to any amounts still owed to the IRS, or a state tax agency, and may be used to offset unpaid child support or past due federal debts, such as student loans.

By failing to file a tax return, people stand to lose more than just their refund of taxes withheld or paid during 2013. Many low-and-moderate income workers may have been eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). For 2013, the credit was worth as much as $6,044. The EITC helps individuals and families whose incomes are below certain thresholds. The thresholds for 2013 were:

  • $46,227 ($51,567 if married filing jointly) for those with three or more qualifying children;
  • $43,038 ($48,378 if married filing jointly) for people with two qualifying children;
  • $37,870 ($43,210 if married filing jointly) for those with one qualifying child, and;
  • $14,340 ($19,680 if married filing jointly) for people without qualifying children.

Current and prior year tax forms (such as the Tax Year 2013 Form 1040, 1040A and 1040EZ) and instructions are available on the IRS.gov Forms and Publications page or by calling toll-free: 800- TAX-FORM (800-829-3676). Taxpayers who are missing Forms W-2, 1098, 1099 or 5498 for the years 2013, 2014 or 2015 should request copies from their employer, bank or other payer.

Taxpayers who are unable to get missing forms from their employer or other payer should go to IRS.gov and use the “Get Transcript Online” tool to obtain a Wage and Income transcript.  Taxpayers can also file Form 4506-T to request a transcript of their 2013 income. A Wage and Income transcript shows data from information returns we receive such as Forms W-2, 1099, 1098 and Form 5498, IRA Contribution Information. Taxpayers can use the information on the transcript to file their tax return.

State-by-state estimates of individuals who may be due 2013 tax refunds: 

State or District

Estimated

Number of

Individuals

Median

Potential

Refund

Total

Potential

Refunds*

Alabama

18,100

$729

$17,549,000

Alaska

4,700

$917

$5,665,000

Arizona

24,800

$650

$22,642,000

Arkansas

9,900

$722

$9,571,000

California

97,200

$696

$93,406,000

Colorado

20,200

$699

$19,454,000

Connecticut

11,500

$846

$12,691,000

Delaware

4,300

$776

$4,321,000

District of Columbia

3,200

$762

$3,341,000

Florida

66,900

$776

$67,758,000

Georgia

34,400

$671

$32,082,000

Hawaii

6,500

$793

$6,876,000

Idaho

4,500

$619

$3,919,000

Illinois

40,000

$834

$42,673,000

Indiana

21,700

$788

$22,060,000

Iowa

10,200

$808

$10,193,000

Kansas

11,100

$746

$10,700,000

Kentucky

12,900

$772

$12,627,000

Louisiana

20,300

$767

$21,209,000

Maine

4,000

$715

$3,645,000

Maryland

22,200

$770

$23,080,000

Massachusetts

23,000

$838

$24,950,000

Michigan

33,600

$763

$33,998,000

Minnesota

15,600

$691

$14,544,000

Mississippi

10,400

$702

$10,041,000

Missouri

22,400

$705

$20,787,000

Montana

3,600

$727

$3,480,000

Nebraska

5,300

$745

$5,084,000

Nevada

12,300

$753

$12,078,000

New Hampshire

4,400

$892

$4,930,000

New Jersey

29,900

$873

$33,207,000

New Mexico

8,100

$753

$8,162,000

New York

54,700

$847

$59,416,000

North Carolina

29,800

$656

$26,874,000

North Dakota

2,900

$888

$3,209,000

Ohio

36,000

$749

$34,547,000

Oklahoma

17,700

$773

$17,979,000

Oregon

15,500

$658

$14,188,000

Pennsylvania

39,400

$835

$41,078,000

Rhode Island

2,900

$796

$2,906,000

South Carolina

12,100

$674

$11,267,000

South Dakota

2,700

$823

$2,709,000

Tennessee

19,500

$743

$18,829,000

Texas

104,700

$829

$115,580,000

Utah

7,900

$667

$7,443,000

Vermont

2,000

$747

$1,859,000

Virginia

29,000

$752

$29,578,000

Washington

27,600

$829

$30,330,000

West Virginia

5,000

$855

$5,258,000

Wisconsin

12,700

$675

$11,619,000

Wyoming

2,800

$911

$3,189,000

Totals

1,042,100

$763

$1,054,581,000

 * Excluding the Earned Income Tax Credit and other credits. 

 

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