Final Countdown: $1.5 Billion in Tax Refunds Must Be Claimed Within Days
About $1.5 billion in unclaimed tax refunds still remain for those who did not file a 2018 tax return, but that money must be claimed by April 18.
There is currently nearly $1.5 billion in unclaimed tax refunds for an estimated 1.5 million taxpayers who did not file a 2018 return, according to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Getting your hands on that cash would come in handy, but the agency has also warned that taxpayers only have until the tax day deadline on April 18 to collect the money.
“The IRS wants to help people who are due refunds but haven’t filed their 2018 tax returns yet,” IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said in a statement. “But people need to act quickly. By law, there’s only a three-year window to claim these refunds, which closes with this year’s April tax deadline. We want to help people get these refunds, but they need to file a 2018 tax return before this critical deadline.”
For individuals who need to file a 2018 return, they must do so by traditional mail and send the return to the IRS listed on the last page of the 1040 form instructions. As for the average refund amount, the IRS says it’s roughly $800—certainly enough cash to make the hassle of filing taxes worthwhile.
“The bottom line is that if you didn't file a tax return for 2018, it's in your best interest to do so—even if you earned little or no income for that year,” wrote Matthew Frankel at The Motley Fool. “Gather your income information (you can request a tax transcript from the IRS if you don't have it) and fill out a 2018 tax return form. … If you are entitled to a refund, you could end up with a rather large reward for little effort.”
Need to File Other Years’ Returns As Well
However, do note that taxpayers looking to cash in will also need to have tax returns filed for 2019 and 2020.
“These refund checks may be held back if taxpayers have not filed tax returns for 2019 and 2020,” wrote Susan Tompor of the Detroit Free Press. “Also refunds will be applied to any amounts still owed to the IRS or a state tax agency and, according to the IRS, may be used to offset unpaid child support or past due federal debts.”
Eligible for EITC?
Also worth mentioning is the fact that some taxpayers who did not file a 2018 return could be eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) that was worth more than $6,400 for that tax year.
According to the IRS’ website, here are the EITC income thresholds for 2018: $49,194 ($54,884 if married filing jointly) for those with three or more qualifying children; $45,802 ($51,492 if married filing jointly) for people with two qualifying children; $40,320 ($46,010 if married filing jointly) for those with one qualifying child; and $15,270 ($20,950 if married filing jointly) for people without qualifying children.
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Washington state-based reporter and editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.