$33 Million in Unclaimed Refunds Available Says LSU AgCenter Family Economist

Jeanette A. Tucker  |  4/19/2005 10:28:37 PM

News You Can Use For April 2004


Unclaimed refunds totaling more than $33 million are awaiting 30,500 Louisiana families who failed to file a 2000 income tax return. The average unclaimed refund totals $507, according to LSU AgCenter family economics professor Dr. Jeanette Tucker.

Some taxpayers also may be eligible for the refundable Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). To collect the money, however, a return must be filed with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) no later than April 15, 2004.

"The clock is running if you want to get your refund," says IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson. "People who aren’t required to file sometimes overlook that they may have had taxes withheld. Don’t wait until it is too late. We want all taxpayers to get the refund they are due."

Tucker explains that in cases where a return was not filed, the law provides most taxpayers with a three-year window of opportunity for claiming a refund. If no return is filed to claim the refund within three years, the money becomes property of the U.S. Treasury.

For 2000 returns, the window closes on April 15. The law requires that the return be properly addressed, postmarked and mailed by that date. There is no penalty assessed by the IRS for filing a late return qualifying for a refund.

The IRS reminds taxpayers seeking a 2000 refund that their checks will be held if they have not filed tax returns for 2001 or 2002. In addition, the refund will be applied to any amounts still owed to the IRS and may be used to satisfy unpaid child support or past due federal debts such as student loans.

"By failing to file a return, individuals stand to lose more than refunds of taxes withheld or paid during 2000," the family economist says, noting that many low-income workers may not have claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit for which they are eligible.

Although eligible taxpayers may get a refund when their EITC is more than their tax, those who file returns more than three years late would be able only to offset their tax. They would not be able to receive refunds if the credit exceeded their tax.

Generally, individuals qualified for the EITC in 2000 if they earned less than $31,152 and had more than one qualifying child living with them, less than $27,413 with one qualifying child, or less than $10,380 and had no qualifying child.

Current and prior year tax forms are available on the IRS Web site (www.irs.gov) or by calling 1-800-TAX-FORM (1-800-829-3676). Taxpayers who need help also can call the IRS help line at 1-800-829-1040.

For information on related family and consumer topics in family, housing and nutrition, visit the FCS Web site at http://www.lsuagcenter.com/Inst/Extension/Departments/fcs/. For local information and educational programs, contact an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office.

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On the Internet: LSU AgCenter: http://www.lsuagcenter.com/Inst/Extension/Departments/fcs/
On the Internet: Internal Revenue Service: www.irs.gov.
Source: Jeanette Tucker (225) 578-1425, or Jtucker@agcenter.lsu.edu.

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