Unclaimed refunds totaling more than $58 million are awaiting 43,100 people in Washington State who failed to file an income tax return for 2001, the Internal Revenue Service announced today. However, in order to collect the money, a return must be filed with the IRS no later than Apr.15, 2005.
The IRS estimates that half of those who could claim refunds would receive more than $520. In some cases, individuals had taxes withheld from their wages, or made payments against their taxes out of self-employed earnings, but had too little income to require filing a tax return. Some taxpayers may also be eligible for the refundable Earned Income Tax Credit.
“The window is closing for 2001 refunds,” said IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson. “As soon as you send us your tax return, you’ll get your money. But if you don’t file, you won’t get anything.”
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 2001 returns, the window closes on April 15, 2005. The law requires that the return be properly addressed, postmarked and mailed by that date. There is no penalty assessed by the IRS for filing a late return qualifying for a refund.
The IRS reminds taxpayers seeking a 2001 refund that their checks will be held if they have not filed tax returns for 2002 or 2003. 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, individuals stand to lose more than refunds of taxes withheld or paid during 2001. Many low-income workers may not have claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Although eligible taxpayers may get a refund when their EITC is more than their tax, those who file returns more than three years late would be able only to offset their tax. They would not be able to receive refunds if the credit exceeded their tax.
Generally, individuals qualified for the EITC in 2001 if they earned less than $32,121 and had more than one qualifying child living with them, less than $28,281 with one qualifying child, or less than $10,710 and had no qualifying child.
Current and prior year tax forms are available on the IRS Web site (www.irs.gov) or by calling 1-800-TAX-FORM (1-800-829-3676). Taxpayers who need help also can call the IRS help line at 1-800-829-1040.