Deadline Nears for Collecting Refunds on 2009 Federal Income Taxes

Reaching for Money on Ground The Internal Revenue Service released a statement recently indicating that nearly a million taxpayers are on the cusp of missing out on nearly a billion dollars in income tax refunds if they do not file a tax return in the next few weeks. The refunds belong to the more than 984,000 taxpayers who did not file a return in for the 2009 tax year. The law requires filing a 2009 return by April 15, 2013. As of April 16, 2013, any remaining unclaimed 2009 tax refunds become the property of the U.S. government.

Many of these unclaimed refunds result from taxpayers who made sufficiently little income that they were not required to submit a tax return, but still had taxes withheld from their wages or made quarterly estimated tax payments. Others, however, earned a refund without paying anything in taxes, or having any amount withheld. A significant number of lower-income workers, who did not file a return in 2009, qualified for the Earned Income Tax Credit. In 2009, that credit had a value of as much as $5,657. That credit applied to taxpayers earning as much as $48,279, if they qualified to file a joint return and had at least three qualifying children.

The IRS reminded taxpayers that the service might hold the refund if the taxpayer did not file returns in 2010 and 2011. Additionally, if the taxpayer has outstanding federal or state tax debts, past-due student loans or owes back child support, the IRS may use that taxpayer’s 2009 refund to pay those outstanding debts.

The IRS statement indicated that California had the largest number of unclaimed refunds, at just more than 100,000. Texas had more than 86,000 and New York was third with 62,000. Nationally, the average amount from the group of unclaimed 2009 refunds was $569. Alaskans and Wyoming residents had the largest median refunds, at more than $650. Missourians, who had the smallest average unclaimed refund, still had an average of $500. To file a 2009 return, taxpayers may find the 2009 forms, along with the current and other past years’ federal income tax forms online at, in the “Form and Publications” area, or by calling the IRS. Taxpayers should also remember that they must submit their Forms W-2, 1099, 1098, and other appropriate forms with their 2009 returns. If you do not have those forms, you should seek copies from your employer, bank or other payer, or else, if you cannot, then obtain a free transcript showing information from these year-end documents by filing Form 4506-T, Request for Transcript of Tax Return.

Taxpayers may have a variety of valid reasons for declining to file a tax return in a particular year. Nevertheless, it may still behoove them to consider filing, otherwise they may be leaving “money on the table.” The experienced tax attorneys at Samuel C. Berger, P.C. and CPAs at S.C. Berger, P.C. have years of experience helping taxpayers throughout New York and northern New Jersey with income tax issues. To consult our attorneys and CPAs, contact us online or call (201) 587-1500 or (212) 380-8117.

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