What would you do if you knew someone else had your money? Claim it, of course. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is urging taxpayers to do exactly that: More than $1 billion in outstanding tax refunds remain unclaimed from 2013. That represents an estimated one million taxpayers who might have qualified for a refund but who did not file a federal income tax return for 2012.
How much is a billion dollars? I know we throw around these “illions” anymore (millions, billions, trillions) like they’re nothing but it’s a lot of money. How much? If the IRS gave away a dollar an hour, it would take more than 114,155 years to get rid of $1 billion.
If you are due a tax refund, you must file a federal income tax return to get your money. You typically have a three-year window following the return due date to claim your tax refund. To claim your refund for the 2013 tax year, your return must be postmarked on or before April 18, 2017. For more on due dates in 2017, click here.
Tax returns have changed a bit so if you need a copy of the form 1040 from 2013, click here (downloads as a pdf), visit the IRS website, or call toll-free 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676) to order an old form.
Remember that you’ll need your tax info from your forms W-2, 1098, 1099 or 5498 from 2012 in order to file the 2013 return. If you don’t have those old forms, you can request copies from your employer or bank; if that doesn’t work, you can try ordering them from IRS.gov using the "Get Transcript Online" tool. You can also file a form 4506-T (downloads as a pdf) to request a transcript of your 2013 income: be sure to request the Wage and Income Transcript.
But do it now: the clock is ticking. If you don’t file for a refund within the proper time frame, you lose your right to claim it at all. It becomes the property of the U.S. Treasury.
"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."