The IRS Might Owe You $900: But Time Is Running Out To Claim Your Money

Income tax refund.
DNY59 / Getty Images/iStockphoto

How’s this for a switch: The IRS wants to pay you money, and the agency is going to great lengths to get the word out. If you qualify, you might get $900 or more — but you only have a couple of months left to claim your money.

Last month, the IRS announced that nearly 1.5 million people have unclaimed refunds for tax year 2019 and estimated the total at $1.5 billion. The median refund is $893. To qualify for the refund, you need to submit your 2019 return by July 17, 2023.

Normally, taxpayers have three years to file and claim their tax refunds. If they don’t file within three years, the money becomes the property of the U.S. Treasury. For 2019 tax returns, however, taxpayers were given more time than usual to file taxes and claim refunds because of the COVID-19 pandemic that hit during the 2020 tax season.

The three-year window for 2019 unfiled returns was postponed to July 17, 2023. The IRS issued Notice 2023-21 on Feb. 27, 2023, providing legal guidance on claims made by the postponed deadline.

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“The 2019 tax returns came due during the pandemic, and many people may have overlooked or forgotten about these refunds,” IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel said in an April 12 news release. “We want taxpayers to claim these refunds, but time is running out. People face a July 17 deadline to file their returns. We recommend taxpayers start soon to make sure they don’t miss out.”

The IRS is so anxious to spread the word that it issued a tweet on April 26 with the following message: “You’d normally have up to 3 years to claim a tax refund, but due to the pandemic, #IRS extended the deadline to file your 2019 tax return to July 17, 2023. If you didn’t file, don’t miss out.”

The tweet also made use of the ever-popular cat meme by showing an image of a cat holding a dollar bill and issuing this public service tip: “Like finding cash? There’s $1.5 billion in tax refunds yet to be claimed from 2019.”

In the news release, the IRS advised that not filing a 2019 tax return could have consequences beyond just losing out on a tax refund. Many low- and moderate-income taxpayers might also be eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

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For 2019, the credit was worth as much as $6,557. The EITC provides financial relief to Americans whose incomes were below certain thresholds in 2019. You might be eligible if you meet these income criteria:

  • $50,162 ($55,952 if married filing jointly) for those with three or more qualifying children
  • $46,703 ($52,493 if married filing jointly) for people with two qualifying children
  • $41,094 ($46,884 if married filing jointly) for those with one qualifying child, and
  • $15,570 ($21,370 if married filing jointly) for people without qualifying children

The IRS also issued a reminder that 2019 tax refunds might be held if you haven’t filed tax returns for 2020 and 2021. In addition, the refund will be applied to any amounts still owed to the IRS or a state tax agency. The refund might also be used to offset unpaid child support or past due federal debts such as student loans.

Current and prior year tax forms (such as the tax year 2019 Forms 1040 and 1040-SR) and instructions are available on the Forms, Instructions & Publications page or by calling toll-free 800-829-3676.

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