Haven’t Filed Your 2020 Tax Return? You May Be Forfeiting a Substantial Refund

Article Highlights:

  • 2020 refunds are in jeopardy

  • Filing deadline

  • Lost benefits

  • Mailing instructions

If you have not yet filed your 2020 federal tax return and have a refund coming, time is running out! The IRS estimates that there are about 940,000 taxpayers who have not filed their 2020 tax returns and that there is over $1 billion dollars of unclaimed refunds available for those taxpayers. If you fall in this category, you need to act quickly because the return must be filed by May 17, 2024 to claim a refund for 2020. Otherwise, the money becomes the property of the U.S. Treasury. The average refund for 2020 is estimated to be $932. It could be more for those who haven’t already received their COVID-era Recovery Rebate Credit.

Taxpayers usually have three years to file and claim tax refunds, and generally means the filing deadline to claim past refunds would be the April tax deadline three years after the original return filing deadline. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the original filing deadline for 2020 returns was postponed a month. Accordingly, the 3-year-deadline for claiming 2020 refunds has been postponed to May 17, 2024.

By failing to file a return, people stand to lose more than a refund of taxes withheld or paid during 2020. Many low- and moderate-income workers may not have claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The EITC helps individuals and families with incomes below certain thresholds, which for unmarried individuals in 2020 were $50,594 for those with three or more children, $47,440 for those with two children, $41,756 for people with one child, and $15,820 for those with no children. For married joint filers, the threshold is $6,250 more for those with three or more children, and $5,890 more for each other category. In addition, parents eligible to claim the refundable portion of the child tax credit will forfeit that benefit if they don’t file a return.

When filing a 2020 return, the law requires that the return be properly addressed, mailed, and postmarked by the May 17th date. It may also be appropriate to obtain a proof of mailing from the Post Office in case the IRS disputes the return being mailed by the deadline. There is no penalty for filing a late return qualifying for a refund.

As a reminder, taxpayers seeking a 2020 refund should know that their checks from the IRS will be held if they have not filed tax returns for 2021 and 2022. In addition, the refund will be applied to any amounts still owed to the IRS, and may be used to offset unpaid child support or past-due federal debts such as student loans.

Don’t forfeit your 2020 refund; contact this office for assistance in bringing your tax filing obligations current.

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