Baby boomers, seniors, Generation Xers and anyone who was an adult in 2009, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service has potentially good -- and surprising -- news for you. If you didn't file a federal income tax return for 2009, there may be a refund waiting for you if you claim it by April 15 of this year. The IRS reported that 984,000 people who did not file an income tax return for that year may be eligible to receive a portion of the $917 million in unclaimed refunds for tax year 2009.
Highlights of Seeking Tax Refund for 2009
When you haven't filed an income tax return and would have been due a refund, you can only do so for the past three years. The period for doing so for 2009 tax returns extends only through April 15, 2013. Refunds not claimed in that period of time become the property of the U.S. Department of the Treasury .
Some people may not have filed a tax return because their income was below the level required for filing, but still had taxes withdrawn from wages or paid quarterly estimated payments. These people may well be eligible for a refund -- the IRS estimates that half of these refunds are more than $500.
There is no penalty for late filing an income tax return if a refund was due. Penalties only apply to late filing when payment was due the IRS. Links to videos in English , Spanish and ASL are provided on the IRS site; the video briefly explains about unfiled tax returns and refunds due, payment programs to help those who owe back taxes and offers IRS assistance for filing back tax returns.
Good News, Bad News, Good News
The IRS explains that individuals who did not file tax returns in 2009, 2010 and 2011 may have their refund checks held. If any money is owed to the IRS or the individual's state tax agency, child support arrearages or student loan debt, those amounts will be withheld from any refund due.
Although the potential exists for any refund due you for 2009 to be used in payment of previous obligations, this is not a reason to avoid filing for your refund. While it would be great to have some extra money in your hands, it is also beneficial to you to get those old obligations out from under you. Remember, this isn't money you had planned on receiving in the first place, so you're going to benefit financially in whatever way it may be used.
Don't Forget Earned Income Tax Credit
If you didn't file an income tax return for 2009 because your income was below the threshold requiring you to do so, you may be entitled to a larger refund than you expect. If your income for an individual without qualifying children was at or below $13,440 for 2009, or $18,440 married filing jointly without qualifying children, you could be eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit, EITC. If so, you refund would be the amount of federal taxes withheld during the year and an additional sum for the EITC.
Other specific information, such as additional income levels for claiming the EITC and how to obtain previous years' tax forms and instruction is available at the IRS site.
- Personal Taxes