More than 11,000 Arkansas taxpayers have left an estimated $12 million in federal income tax refunds on the table ahead of the three-year deadline to collect unclaimed payments, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) officials said on Wednesday (March 13).
Nationwide, unclaimed income tax refunds totaling almost $1.4 billion may be waiting for an estimated 1.2 million taxpayers who did not file a 2015 Form 1040 federal income tax return. To collect the money, these taxpayers must file their 2015 tax returns with the IRS no later than this year’s tax deadline on April 15, except for taxpayers in Maine and Massachusetts, who have until April 17.
“We’re trying to connect over a million people with their share of $1.4 billion in potentially unclaimed refunds for 2015,” said IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig. “Students, part-time workers and many others may have overlooked filing for 2015. And there’s no penalty for filing a late return if you’re due a refund.”
The IRS estimates the midpoint for the potential refunds for 2015 to be $879 – meaning half of the refunds are more than $879 and half are less. In Arkansas, the average federal tax refund left on the table is about $824 per person, IRS data shows. California has the largest number of people (111,200) who may be due 2015 refunds totaling $124.4 million, or an average of about $832 per person.
In cases where a federal income tax return was not filed, the law provides most taxpayers with a three-year window of opportunity to claim a tax refund. If they do not file a tax return within three years, the money becomes the property of the U.S. Treasury. For 2015 tax returns, the window closes April 15, 2019, for most taxpayers. The law requires taxpayers to properly address, mail and ensure the tax return is postmarked by that date.
The IRS reminds taxpayers seeking a 2015 tax refund that their checks may be held if they have not filed tax returns for 2016 and 2017. 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 2015. Many low- and moderate-income workers may be eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit worth up to $6,242, IRS officials said.
Taxpayers who are missing Forms W-2, 1098, 1099 or 5498 for the years 2015, 2016 or 2017 should request copies from their employer, bank or other payer. Taxpayers who are unable to get missing forms from their employer or other payer can order a free wage and income transcript at IRS.gov.