Americans Have Up to $1.1 Billion in Unclaimed Tax Refunds

March 9, 2018 by Douglas A. McIntyre

Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released data that show that Americans may have as much as $1.1 billion in unclaimed refunds. The information is old, though. It covers the 2014 tax year.

The agency’s management announced:

Unclaimed federal income tax refunds totaling about $1.1 billion may be waiting for an estimated 1 million taxpayers who did not file a 2014 federal income tax return, according to the Internal Revenue Service.

To collect the money, these taxpayers must file their 2014 tax return with the IRS no later than this year’s tax deadline, Tuesday, April 17.

The agency added that the size of the refunds varies significantly:

The IRS estimates the midpoint for the potential refunds for 2014 to be $847; half of the refunds are more than $847 and half are less.

Taxpayers have a three-year window after they filed their 2014 to collect the money. That puts the deadline on April 17.

Taxpayers face a number of rules if they file for the refunds:

The IRS reminds taxpayers seeking a 2014 tax refund that their checks may be held if they have not filed tax returns for 2015 and 2016. 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.

As of the start of this year, 44 million people had student debt, which totaled $1.48 trillion. Just over 11% of those loans are delinquent, which means they are 90 days or more overdue. The default level among students who are part of the direct loan program is $75 billion spread over 4.3 million people. Presumably, these people are not candidates for refunds.

Then there are the people who do not know they are due refunds or have forgotten about them. There is no way for the government to figure that number, but it likely is large enough that the IRS will keep much of the $1.1 billion.