Some people are not required to file an IRS tax return because their income falls below a certain amount. However, these same people may be owed an IRS refund.
Additionally, the IRS receives undeliverable tax refund checks back each year, totaling in the millions of dollars.
If the IRS owes you money, here’s how to claim it and check on your refund status
Money Owed to Non-Tax Return Filers
Just because you aren’t required to file a tax return doesn’t mean you wouldn’t have a refund if you did file. It’s in your best interest to check annually to see if you could claim a refund for taxes withheld from your pay, even if you aren’t required to file because you didn’t earn enough income. If you aren’t working and haven’t paid taxes, you could still qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit – which would result in a tax refund payment.
You have up to three years to file tax returns and receive a refund. If you don’t file within three years, the money belongs to the United States Treasury. If you have not filed a return in three years, go back three years and do a return on paper or online to see if you would be owed a refund – and if so, file. You are not charged penalties for filing late if you are owed a refund.
You can get prior year tax forms and instructions, including how to file for the Earned Income Tax Credit, from the IRS.gov website.
Lost Tax Refund
If you filed a tax return and expected a refund check that never arrived, you can take steps to locate the money. This may have happened if you moved and did not notify the IRS or fill out a change of address form with the U.S Postal Service. If you are no longer at the address you used on your tax return, and there is no forwarding information, your check is returned to the IRS.
Visit the “Where’s My Refund” section of the IRS website, and fill out the information including your new address if they find you are owed a refund. This website works as early as 72 hours after the IRS acknowledged your e-filed tax return or four weeks after you mail a paper tax return. The data on this site is updated on Wednesdays each week, with information of any new tax filers who are owed refunds.
You can also file a Change of Address form (Form 8822) with the IRS to ensure that this does not happen again in the future.
If you don’t have internet access or prefer to call and ask about your refund, you can call the IRS toll-free, 800-829-1040.