Are you looking for a little extra cash this summer! The IRS recently issued a reminder about unclaimed refunds… does one belong to you? Earlier this year, the IRS announced that unclaimed refunds for 2005 (the last year for which you could claim a refund as of tax day, 2009) totaled approximately $1.3 billion – yes, with a b. The average unclaimed refund was just under $600, with the highest amounts attributable to members of the armed forces.

To qualify for a refund, you have to file. I know this seems apparent but I am constantly surprised at how many taxpayers think they “might” be owed a refund and aren’t sure how to figure out whether that’s true. The answer is very simple: file.

There are restrictions, however, on filing for a refund. What’s good for the goose… well, you know the saying. While it’s true that if you don’t file and you owe money, the statute of limitations never runs, the opposite is not true if you don’t file and are owed money. The statute begins to run for refunds as of the due date of the return: you have three years to claim your refund. If you don’t claim it, you lose it forever.

If you’ve filed for a refund and never received it (a la Obama protocol nominee Capricia Penavic Marshall who apparently never noticed that her $37,000 refund didn’t arrive), you should contact confirm your mailing address with the IRS. If you don’t opt for direct deposit, the IRS will send your refund check to your last known address. To change the address that the IRS has on file for you, file form 8822, Change of Address or call 1.800.829.3676. If all else fails, give the IRS a call at 800-829-1040 to check the status of your refund.

Remember, refunds are your money. What are you waiting for?

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Kelly Erb is a tax attorney, tax writer and podcaster.


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