The Internal Revenue Service today encouraged nearly 1.5 million people across the nation to submit a tax return to claim their refunds for tax year 2019 by the July 17, 2023, deadline.
The IRS estimates almost $1.5 billion in refunds remain unclaimed because people haven't filed their 2019 tax returns yet. Available data includes a special state-by-state estimate of how many people are potentially eligible for these refunds in each state and each state's median potential refund. The average median refund for tax year 2019 was $893.
"Time is running out for more than a million people to get their tax refunds for 2019," said IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel. "Many people may have overlooked filing a 2019 tax return due to the pandemic. We don't want people to miss their window to receive their refund. We encourage people to check their records and act quickly before the deadline. The IRS has several important ways that people can get help."
Under the law, taxpayers usually 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, people have more time than usual to file to claim their refunds. Usually, the normal filing deadline to claim old refunds falls around the April tax deadline, which was April 18 this year for 2022 tax returns. But the three-year window for 2019 unfiled returns was postponed to July 17, 2023, due to the COVID-19 pandemic emergency. IRS Notice 2023-21, issued on Feb. 27, 2023, provided legal guidance on claims made by the postponed deadline. The law requires taxpayers to properly address, mail and ensure the tax return is postmarked by July 17, 2023.
Taxpayers could lose more than just their refund of taxes withheld or paid during 2019. Many low- and moderate-income workers may be eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). For 2019, the credit was worth as much as $6,557. The EITC helps individuals and families whose incomes were below certain thresholds in 2019. Those who are potentially eligible for EITC in 2019 had incomes below:
$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.
$15,570 ($21,370 if married filing jointly) for people without qualifying children.
The IRS reminds taxpayers seeking a 2019 tax refund that their checks may be held if they have not 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 and may 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 online on the IRS Forms, Instructions and Publications page or by calling toll-free 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).
Need to file a 2019 tax return? Several options to get key documents
Although it's been several years since 2019, the IRS reminds taxpayers there are ways they can still gather the information they need to file this tax return. People should begin now to make sure they have enough time to file before the July deadline for 2019 refunds. Here are some options:
Request copies of key documents: Taxpayers who are missing Forms W-2, 1098, 1099 or 5498 for the years 2019, 2020 or 2021 can request copies from their employer, bank or other payers.
Use Get Transcript Online at IRS.gov. Taxpayers who are unable to get those missing forms from their employer or other payers can order a free wage and income transcript at IRS.gov using the Get Transcript Online tool. For many taxpayers, this is by far the quickest and easiest option.
Request a transcript. Another option is for people to file Form 4506-T, Request for Transcript of Tax Return, with the IRS to request a "wage and income transcript." A wage and income transcript shows data from information returns received by the IRS, such as Forms W-2, 1099, 1098, Form 5498 and IRA contribution information. Taxpayers can use the information from the transcript to file their tax return. But plan ahead – these written requests can take several weeks; people are strongly urged to try the other options first.