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Unclaimed refund waiting for you?

By Kay Bell ·
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Posted: 1 pm ET

Take a break from working on your 2010 tax return and check your files for the 2007 tax year. Did you file a return three years ago? If not, the Internal Revenue Service might have some money for you.

But you better act soon if you want your part of the more than $1.1 billion that the IRS says is due almost 1.1 million taxpayers who didn't file a 2007 return.

The U.S. Treasury gets to keep tax money that's unpaid for more than three years.

Sine 2007 taxes were due by April 2008, that means this filing season is the last year that taxpayers can claim any tax money they were due for the 2007 tax year. So if you didn't file a tax return for that year and are due an old refund, get the paperwork to the IRS by April 18.

The IRS estimates that half of the uncollected 2007 refunds are worth $640 or more. That's the median amount of possible refunds from the old stash of cash, meaning half of the returns are less, but then, the other half are worth more.

The five states with the most unclaimed refund money are:

State Unclaimed refunds Median refund amount
California 124,000 $597
Texas 91,700 $692
Florida 74,500 $665
New York 62,600 $706
Illinois 38,800 $692


The biggest potential old refund checks, however, go to Wyoming residents who didn't file their tax year 2007 returns. The median refund amount there is $788.

The IRS says that there are many reasons why folks might have overlooked their tax filing duties three years ago.

Some people may not have submitted a tax return because they didn't make enough money to require that they file. They did, however, have taxes withheld from their earnings, which they could have collected by sending in a tax return.

Other taxpayers were eligible to claim the Earned Income Tax Credit, or EITC, a tax credit for low- and middle-income workers. That would have given them a refund or a bigger refund if they did file.

For the 2007 tax year, the EITC was available to taxpayers without children who had earnings of up to $14,590. Those who had one child and made a maximum of $35,241 could have claimed the tax credit. And filers with two or more kids and income of up to $39,783 could have claimed the EITC on their 2007 tax returns. 

If you didn't file a return for 2007 or need to amend that filing to collect the EITC, the IRS has tax returns for prior tax years on its website that you can download and file.

But do it soon. If you miss the April 18 deadline, Uncle Sam will get to keep your unclaimed tax refund money.

Make sure you get all the latest tax news and tips this filing season by subscribing to Bankrate's free Daily Tax Tip newsletter.

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belinda reyes
March 29, 2011 at 10:50 pm

i havent received one

Robert Duncan
March 22, 2011 at 10:20 am

Do I have a refuind? State