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The TurboTax Blog > Tax Refunds > File Your Taxes: You May Have Unclaimed Refunds Waiting

File Your Taxes: You May Have Unclaimed Refunds Waiting

Tax Refunds person holding money

Did you know that the IRS has reported an upwards of a billion dollars in unclaimed tax refunds? That’s right, a billion dollars of money that is owed to an estimated 1.3 million taxpayers across the country who have yet to file their 2017 tax return. How did this happen? 

In most cases, refunds go unclaimed because taxpayers who don’t meet the IRS income threshold requirement to file a tax return are actually entitled to a tax refund, but since they never file a return, they can’t claim that money. Another portion of unclaimed tax refunds that the IRS may be holding onto may include the Earned Income Tax Credit, or EITC. This is a tax credit, not deduction, that’s available to many lower to moderate income workers, and this credit often goes unclaimed. The maximum credit for EITC for 2017 was worth as much as $6,318.  

If this sounds like you, it’s time to get to work so can you claim what’s rightfully yours. One thing to keep in mind, is the IRS places just a three year window on claiming these past refunds. The deadline to claim tax year 2017 refunds (the tax return you typically would have filed in 2018)   was extended from April 15, 2021 to May 17, 2021. After that time elapses, the money goes to the U.S. Treasury. You’ll also want to note that if you want to claim a refund from two or three years ago, you’ll likely need to make sure all subsequent year tax returns have been filed in order for the funds to be released. If you haven’t filed a 2017 tax return you should quickly file to potentially get this refund. 

If you’re thinking about claiming a potential refund that may be a few years old, you will have to pull together some documentation that records your income and taxes paid throughout the year as well as deductible expenses. Coming up with W-2 and 1099 forms a few years ago may take some time. This is why it’s important to keep all tax-related documents in a safe place for at least 3-7 years. 

If you can’t locate your documents needed to file your 2017 taxes, the next step would be to contact your employer or payer at the time in question and request copies of the forms. If these efforts are unsuccessful, you can get a free transcript from the IRS showing information from these year-end documents by ordering a free wage and income transcript at IRS.gov using the Get Transcript Online tool or by filing Form 4506-T to request a wage or income statement.

Keep in mind, the IRS estimates the midpoint for the potential refunds for 2017 to be $865, which means that half of the refunds are more than $865 and half are less.

So, think about your situation and decide if doing a little legwork to track down documentation and filing old tax returns is worth it. You may have a refund for previous years coming your way.  Also, don’t miss out on your tax refund for the present tax year. TurboTax can help you easily file your taxes for this tax year as well as previous tax years. TurboTax will ask you simple questions about you and give you the tax deductions and credits you’re eligible for based on your entries.

Comments (12) Leave your comment

  1. I filed with turbo tax this year,last year,and the year before last and still waiting for my refunds..I got 1 letter from the irs for the year before last saying send copy of id,sscard,bith certificate so i did and havent got any letter ,notice or anything saying anything.What Do i do? Who do i call or website to find out whats going on with my refunds?

  2. I found out one of my state check was missing for direct deposit to my account after filing with you on tax turbo so I went to unclaimed money.com and told me the amount of
    $384.40 they found in my name which was my state check they went to california instead of my personal direct deposit in Massachusetts since I closed out the account at my bank and was unable to get my refund or talk to anyone on tax turbo about this would like to know if it be ever claimed again for my state check to return to me.

    1. Stan,

      TurboTax cannot do anything about your refund after the return is filed. Only the IRS or the state can do anything with it.

      If you have a refund still coming to you, you will need to contact the state about it, or if it is already on the unclaimed money site, you can file a claim for it to be returned to you by going to the State’s website.

      Mary Ellen

  3. I have been trying to get in contact with a Trubo Tax Rep. Turbo Tax advertises about how easy it is to get in contact with a Rep. This is not true. I sent an email early last month and still have not heard from a Rep. According to the State of Hawaii and California. The Turbo Tax calculations are way off. I got around $2000.00 les back on my state return that what was said I would get. I expect a Turbo Tax Rep to email me with a phone number where I can talk to a person. Since I paid for audit defense, Calif Tax return papers and efiling. Which Calif did not due because the Calif tax return was all jacked up. Turbo Tax owes me an explanation on why both my Hawaii and California tax returns were so far off. Thank you.

  4. i have a error in my tax return that i just done and cannot find how to correct it it is in my mileage deduction for my car that i use for my work can you help me with this

  5. Filed w/ education credits on 2/15 IRS website says still processing…finally on friday 03/15 received a letter stating that I had to resubmit the education form. Took it to the place I filed my return and they faxed it for me…now it will take another 6-8 weeks once the form is submitted.

  6. Do NOT use this product. Turbotax advertises to do your taxes for free…it is not free. They charge you 60 $ in fees plus when they mess uo your bank account they do not notify you through email or anything, instead they take that opportunity to make even more money by charging you 20 $ more to send you a paper check. So what was suposed to be free filing is now costing me 80$ to file my taxes…becasue they messsed up.

    1. Hi Rebecca,
      All of our information says a Free federal tax return if you are eligible and not your state unless you are eligible under TurboTax Freedom Edition. If there were any legitimate errors please contact customer service at 1.800.4.intuit so they can help you.

      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

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