In just over 24 hours, the government will officially be able to lay claim to the more than $760 million that remains unclaimed from the 2010 tax year.
According to Fox News, the law gives taxpayers three years to claim refund money; any money left unclaimed after this three-year period becomes government property at midnight on April 15. So, unless the 918,000 people to whom these $760 million are owed file their claims in the next 24 hours, their losses will directly be the government’s gain.
James Robertson, a tax preparer at H&R Block in Marietta, Ga., said that this happens every year. “There is that three-year filing window in which you have to file a return and claim a refund,” Robertson explained. "And if you don’t claim a refund within that three years, it becomes property of the Treasury."
If $760 million seems like a lot of money, compare it to these figures: in 2009, taxpayers failed to claim $917 million in refunds; and, for the 2013 tax year, it’s estimated that these numbers could exceed a billion dollars.
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As noted by Forbes, this money is owed to anyone who was eligible for a refund in 2010 but didn’t file a tax return. Potentially included in this group are retirees, students, part-time workers, and low-income earners who don’t realize they qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit.
Robertson noted that depending on several variables, such as income and number of dependents, the Earned Income Tax Credit could be worth as much as $5,000 to a taxpayer. Most refunds, however, are not quite as high.
The top average refunds by state are $649 in Alaska, $648 in Wyoming, and $640 in Washington.
California, on the other hand, is at the top of the list with the highest number of people owed money: 85,500. Following behind California are Texas and New York, where 80,600 and 57,400 people are owed money, respectively.