Not too long ago, the IRS announced that taxpayers are owed more than $917 million from 2009. The refunds are due to taxpayers who might not have filed returns in 2009 – and more than half of the refunds are likely to be for more than $500.
Reasons that some taxpayers might have unclaimed refunds include :
- Had money withheld from a paycheck or paid quarterly taxes, but didn’t make enough money to be required to file, so didn’t claim the refund.
- Didn’t claim refundable credits (like the Earned Income Tax Credit) that they were eligible for, and can file, or amend a past return, to reflect credits.
If you think that the IRS owes you money, you can review your records, and determine whether or not you should file a return, or file an amended return.
Claiming a Refund from Past Years
If you didn’t file a return, and the IRS owes you a refund from a different tax year, you can still claim that return. The IRS allows you to file a return up to three tax years later, which means that you can file for as far back as 2009.
Those who didn’t file a return in 2009, and who want their refund, have until April 15, 2013 (for tax year 2012) to file. If you have already filed for 2009, and you realize you are owed a refund (or a bigger refund), you can file an amended return (Form 1040X) for 2009 by April 15.
When you decide to file a missed return, or file an amended return, you will need to gather your records from the missing years. This includes finding your W-2, 1099, 1098, or other income forms from those years. You can ask for copies from the original issuers. If you can’t get that information, the IRS probably has the information, since issuers are required to send copies to the IRS. You can file a Form 4506-T to request your income information.
Are there Penalties for Filing So Late?
If you file an amended return and owe money, then you have to pay what you owe, but you aren’t penalized for filing your amended return, since you did file an original tax return. This option can most benefit those who should have claimed refundable credits but didn’t.
As long as the IRS owes you money, you don’t have to worry about failure to fail penalties. If you do, in fact, owe money to the IRS and you didn’t file a return, you will have to pay your taxes, plus interest, plus the failure to file penalty.
If you didn’t file in 2009 (or even 2010 or 2011), it’s worth it to reconsider. Even if you didn’t make enough money to require you to file a return, it might be to your advantage to file now. If you are one of the more 900,000 people who didn’t file your tax return in 2009, and if the IRS owes you money, you need to file now if you want to claim what you’re entitled to.