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IRS says $1.5 billion in tax refunds remain unclaimed. Here’s what to know.

  • USA

The IRS wants to find the 1.5 million Americans who are owed $1.5 billion in tax refunds, and the clock is ticking — they only have until July 17 to claim their money.

Unclaimed refunds come from taxpayers who did not file a federal return for the 2019 tax year. Taxes for that year were due in 2020 — the first year of the pandemic, when the IRS extended the deadline for submitting the tax return is July 15, 2020, due to the health emergency.

While most Americans file an annual tax return, some people — mostly low-income households — are not required to do so. For example, people who earn less than the standard deduction generally do not have to file a return with the IRS. But some people may have simply missed the 2020 deadline because of the pandemic, IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel said in a statement Thursday.

“We don’t want people to miss their window to get a refund,” he said. “We encourage people to check their records and act quickly before the deadline.”

The standard deduction in 2019 was $12,200 for individuals, $18,350 for heads of household, and $24,400 for married couples filing jointly

How much could I get?

The average median refund for the 2019 tax year was $893, according to the IRS.

But some taxpayers could get far more, especially those who qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit, the agency notes. That credit was worth as much as $6,557 in 2019.

By when do I have to file my tax return?

Taxpayers must properly apply and receive a postmarked tax return by July 17, 2023.

What happens to the money if I miss the deadline?

Under the law, taxpayers usually have three years to file and claim a tax refund. If they don’t submit the document within that time, the money goes to the US Treasury.

Because of the delayed filing date in 2020, Americans have until July 17 to file their 2019 tax returns and claim all the money they’re owed, instead of the typical mid-April deadline.

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