The IRS is trying to give away money


Do you know someone who has an unfiled income tax return for a prior year?

Some people may have forgotten to file. Maybe they're afraid they'll get into trouble if they file late. It even seems that some taxpayers whose withholding exceeds their tax liability simply decide not to bother with filing a tax return.

The IRS is holding more than $900 million in unclaimed funds just for calendar year 2009. The agency is waiting for almost a million people who haven't filed their 2009 federal income tax returns to claim their refunds.

But the clock is ticking. Those who are owed a refund for 2009 and have yet to file a tax return (or an extension request) have only until April 15, 2013 (Oct. 15, 2013, with an extension), to file the return and claim their money. After that date, the refund is gone. The IRS is not allowed to process a refund claim filed more than three years after the original due date of the return if an extension request was not filed.

Taxpayers seeking a refund must make sure their returns are properly addressed, postmarked and mailed by April 15, 2013. No penalties are assessed for filing late returns that qualify for refunds.

Some people may be entitled to a refund greater than the tax withheld from their paychecks. Many low- and moderate-income workers may not have claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

The EITC is worth as much as $5,657 to families whose incomes are below certain thresholds. The thresholds for 2009 were:

  • $43,279 ($48,279 if married filing jointly) for those with 3 or more qualifying children;
  • $40,295 ($45,295 if married filing jointly) for people with 2 qualifying children;
  • $35,463 ($40,463 if married filing jointly) for those with one qualifying child; and
  • $13,440 ($18,440 if married filing jointly) for people without qualifying children.

After April 15, 2013, most people who timely filed their 2009 returns may breathe a sigh of relief that the three-year period during which the IRS must usually assess additional taxes, if any, will have expired. However, for those who have yet to file, this three-year period does not begin until they file a return.

Read more in IRS Information Release 2013-029.