Deadline is approaching for over $1 billion in unclaimed tax refunds

ConsumerAffairs

Taxpayers have until May 17 to claim their refunds

While the 2024 tax season is winding down, it’s not too late for taxpayers to claim their refunds from 2020. 

The IRS announced that nearly 940,000 taxpayers are yet to claim their refunds, the totals of which exceed $1 billion. Now, the deadline is looming for taxpayers to cash in on these unclaimed refunds. May 17 is the final day to do so. 

“There’s money remaining on the table for hundreds of thousands of people who haven’t filed 2020 tax returns, said Danny Werfel, IRS commissioner. “We want taxpayers to claim these refunds, but time is running out for people who may have overlooked or forgotten about these refunds. There’s a May 17 deadline to file these returns so taxpayers should start soon to make sure they don’t miss out.” 

The pandemic pushed things back

The IRS explained that taxpayers typically have three years to file taxes and claim their refunds. After three years, any refunds taxpayers would’ve received are lost. 

However, after the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the agency pushed all tax-related deadlines back. The IRS has given taxpayers over a year of extra time to make sure their 2020 returns are filed and their refunds are claimed in time. 

For those who have yet to file for 2020, the IRS is estimating the average return to be around $932. This doesn’t include any extra tax deductions or credits that taxpayers may be eligible for. 

Eligible taxpayers are even still able to get the Recovery Rebate credit, or the third government stimulus payment that was disbursed in 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“People faced extremely unusual situations during the pandemic, which may have led some people to forget about a potential refund on their 2020 tax returns,” said Werfel. 

“People may have just overlooked these, including students, part-time workers, and others. Some people may not realize they may be owed a refund. We encourage people to review their files and start gathering records now, so they don’t run the risk of missing the May deadline.” 

What to know before filing

Before filing your 2020 taxes and claiming your refund, there are some important things to know. 

First, taxpayers may not be able to access their refunds if their 2021 and 2022 taxes haven’t been filed. So, it’s important for taxpayers to be as up to date on their filings as possible to ensure they receive all refunds. 

Additionally, after filing 2020 taxes, the IRS will use any unclaimed refunds to pay for outstanding federal or state tax bills. 

Lastly, taxpayers should be sure they have all the necessary documents to file taxes. If employers can’t send over older tax documents, the IRS has two different tools – an online transcript or a written request for a wage and income transcript. In both cases, taxpayers can report their income and wages from any previous years to properly file returns. 

Owe the IRS thousands? See if you qualify for relief.