Time running out to claim $1.5 billion in refunds for tax year 2019, taxpayers face July 17 deadline
The Internal Revenue Service announced today that nearly 1.5 million people across the nation have unclaimed refunds for tax year 2019 but face a July 17 deadline to submit their tax return.
The IRS estimates almost $1.5 billion in refunds remain unclaimed because people haven't filed their 2019 tax returns yet. The average median refund is $893 for this year, and the IRS has done a special state-by-state calculation to show how many people are potentially eligible for these refunds.
"The 2019 tax returns came due during the pandemic, and many people may have overlooked or forgotten about these refunds," said IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel. "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."
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.
But for 2019 tax returns, 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 is 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. The IRS issued Notice 2023-21 on Feb. 27, 2023, providing legal guidance on claims made by the postponed deadline.
The IRS estimates the midpoint for the potential unclaimed refunds for 2019 to be $893. That means half of the refunds are more than $893 and half are less.
"With the pandemic taking place when the 2019 tax returns were originally due, people faced extremely unusual situations. People may have simply forgotten about tax refunds with the deadline that year postponed all the way into July," Werfel said. "We frequently see students, part-time workers and others with little income overlook filing a tax return and never realize they may be owed a refund. We encourage people to review their records and start gathering records now, so they don't run the risk of missing the July deadline."
By missing out on filing a tax return, people stand to 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 are 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, and;
$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.