Could you be one of the 1 million taxpayers that have an unclaimed refund from 2014? A recent report from the IRS confirms that over $1 billion is waiting to be claimed by these taxpayers that did not file a 2014 return. Many of the taxpayers are believed to be part time workers and students that may not have considered their earnings substantial enough to file. The median amount of the refunds is about $800; half are less and half are more.
In order to collect their tax refund, they must file by this year’s tax deadline, April 17th. Any unclaimed funds after the tax deadline will become the property of the U.S. Treasury.
Fortunately, there’s no penalty for filing a late tax return if you are owed a refund, so you have nothing to lose and a refund to gain. How to file?
Confirm You Did Not File
Not sure if you filed in 2014 or not? Consult your tax professional, check your e-filing accounts, and if all else fails, request a tax transcript from the IRS online or by mail.
Gather the Required Documents
You will need to request all typical suspects (W-2s, 1044, etc.) from employers/past employers. This may be the most time consuming, unless you can access them easily online. If you cannot obtain these documents, you may request a wage transcript from the IRS. You may have to do some additional digging for credits and deductions.
Download Return and Mail Your Return
An important consequence of filing late: you cannot e-file after the deadline passed more than 6 months ago. Download the forms for 2014 on the IRS website, fill it out accurately, and ensure it is postmarked before the tax deadline.
File for 2015 and 2016
If you didn’t file in 2015 or 2016 either, you will have to do all of the above, twofold or threefold. Your check may be withheld unless you are up to date on your tax filing.
The three-year window is closing; check with your tax professional to confirm if you did or did not file in 2014 (or 2015, or 2016!), and consult them about the deductions and credits you may take for these years; the ease of late filing will entirely depend on how much your financial circumstances have changed since then. The upside: you’ll have an extra refund to put to good use this year!