The IRS estimates that 1.5 million Americans are still eligible for a refund for 2019 taxes, but the time is starting to run out to claim a check.
The IRS says filers have until July 17 to file a return for 2019 to get a refund. Generally, tax refunds must be claimed within three years, but the IRS gave filers an extra year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The 2019 tax returns came due during the pandemic, and many people may have overlooked or forgotten about these refunds," said IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel. "We want taxpayers to claim these refunds, but time is running out. People face a July 17 deadline to file their returns. We recommend taxpayers start soon to make sure they don't miss out."
The IRS estimates the median amount for unclaimed refunds is $893 per filer. This amount is a bit smaller than the average refund of $2,869 paid during the 2019 tax season.
In total, the IRS says it believes about $1.479 billion is owed to Americans.
The IRS added that many low- and moderate-income workers are eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit, worth as much as $6,557.
"With the pandemic taking place when the 2019 tax returns were originally due, people faced extremely unusual situations. People may have simply forgotten about tax refunds with the deadline that year postponed all the way into July," Werfel said. "We frequently see students, part-time workers and others with little income overlook filing a tax return and never realize they may be owed a refund. We encourage people to review their records and start gathering records now, so they don't run the risk of missing the July deadline."
The IRS says to obtain the documents needed to file a return, filers can request W-2 and similar forms from employers and get a tax transcript from the IRS.
The IRS cautions that refunds will be withheld if a 2020 or 2021 tax return has not been filed. The agency also says refunds can be used to offset debts such as unpaid child support or past-due student loans.