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Unclaimed Income Tax Refunds by Taxpayers

Tax return or extension?

Did you know that the average refund amount in 2020 was about $2,781? It's expected to be a bit higher in 2021.

Is there a tax refund waiting for you? You have three years to file a tax return and claim your refund - and you will not face a late filing penalty for doing this. For example, the deadline to claim a 2017 tax refund is April 21, 2021.

Don't become a statistic! Read on for the latest data on unclaimed tax refunds due to wrong mailing addresses or incorrect bank account numbers. In addition, learn how to claim the refund you deserve! See options to receive your tax refund.

Bounced Refund Bank Deposit, Returned Refund Checks

Each year there are billions of dollars of refund checks that are undelivered due to incorrect mailing addresses or wrong bank account numbers. What if you moved or changed bank accounts since you filed your tax return and and the IRS does not have your new mailing address or new bank account number? Read on to learn how to update this information. 

How To Claim A Missing Tax Refund Payment

  1. If your refund check was returned to the IRS, you might be able to change your address online via the IRS website.
  2. Call 1-800-829-1040 to verify your mailing address or your bank account.
  3. If you can't update your mailing address online, download and mail Form 8822 to the address listed on the tax form.
  4. Next time, e-File your taxes and sign up for direct deposit. It is more accurate, and you get your refund faster!

View the latest efile and direct deposit statistics.

Unclaimed IRS Tax Refunds

For Tax Year 2016, as of July 1, 2020 the unclaimed IRS income tax refunds amount was over $1.5 billion. That is an estimated 1.4 million individual taxpayers who did not file a 2016 Federal Income Tax Return as of July 1, 2020. Unfortunately, it is too late to claim a refund for a 2016 return, so don't miss out on a refund that is due to you!

Maybe you thought your income was so low that you did not have to prepare and e-File or file a tax return. Even if this was the case, did you know that you still might be eligible for a tax refund? For example, you might have had a job and taxes were withheld every month but you did not file a tax return because you had too little income. Yes, you might be able to claim this money in form of a tax refund. Or taxes were not withheld but you might be eligible for a refundable EITC (Earned Income Tax Credit).

Generally, you have three years from the original tax return deadline to file the return and claim your refund. After three years, the refund will go to the government (specifically the U.S. Treasury).

Please refer to the table below for deadlines to claim tax refunds (or pay taxes owed) for a specific Tax Year.

Tax Year
Tax Return Deadline
File Return and Claim Refund By
Claim Refund Instructs.
Taxes Owed Instructs.
2020
April 15, 2021
April 15, 2024
e-File January-October 15, 2021  Register to TaxWin.
Register now and be ready in January 2021.
2019
July 15, 2020
April 15, 2023
e-File January-October 15, 2020  Prepare, e-file Your 2019 Tax Return now
eFile your tax return as soon as possible to reduce late filing fees and penalties.
2018
April 15, 2019
April 15, 2022
e-File January-October 15, 2019  Prepare, file your 2018 tax return on paper.
If you owe 2018 Taxes, file your tax return as soon as possible to reduce late filing fees and late tax payment penalties.
2017
April 18, 2018
April 18, 2021
e-File option no longer available.  Prepare, file your 2017 tax return on paper.
If you owe 2017 Taxes, file your tax return as soon as possible to reduce late filing fees and late tax payment penalties.
2016
April 18, 2017
July 15, 2020
You can no longer claim a 2016 Tax Refund.  Prepare, file your 2016 tax return on paper.
If you owe 2016 Taxes, file your tax return as soon as possible to reduce late filing fees and penalties.
2015
April 16, 2016
Expired
You can no longer claim a 2015 Tax Refund.  Prepare, file your 2015 tax return on paper.
File your tax return as soon as possible to reduce late filing fees and penalties.
2014
April 15, 2015
Expired
You can no longer claim a 2014 tax refund.  Prepare, file your 2014 tax return on paper.
File your tax return as soon as possible to reduce late filing fees and penalties.
2013
April 15, 2014
Expired
You can no longer claim a 2013 tax refund.   Prepare, file your 2013 tax return on paper.
File your tax return as soon as possible to reduce late filing fees and penalties.
2012
April 15, 2013
Expired 
You can no longer claim a 2012 tax refund.  Prepare, file your 2012 tax return on paper.
File your tax return as soon as possible to reduce late filing fees and penalties.
2011
April 17, 2012
Expired 
You can no longer claim a 2011 tax refund.  Prepare, file your 2011 tax return on paper.
File your tax return as soon as possible to reduce late filing fees and penalties.
2010
April 18, 2011
Expired
You can no longer claim a 2010 tax refund.  Prepare, file your 2010 tax return on paper.
File your tax return as soon as possible to reduce late filing fees and penalties.
2009
April 15, 2010
Expired 
You can no longer claim a 2009 tax refund.  Prepare, file your 2009 tax return on paper.
File your tax return as soon as possible to reduce late filing fees and penalties.

Late Tax Return Filing Penalties

If you are eligible for a refund, there is generally no IRS late filing penalty for filing your return late!

  1. Use the FREE eFile.com tax calculator and estimate your tax refund.
  2. Download and complete prior year tax return forms. Remember that you must use the tax form for the Tax Year for which you are filing a tax return. Unfortunately, you can only do this by mailing in a paper tax return, since the IRS does not accept previous year tax returns electronically.
  3. Call 1-800-829-1040 to verify your mailing address.

Find out if you need to file a tax return or qualify for a refund by using our free tax educator tools.

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