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It’s Getting Late For Taxpayers To Claim $1.5 Billion in Refunds

The 2020 tax-filing season was an interesting one, to say the least. That year, the nation was upended due to the pandemic, and the IRS itself made the decision to close its field offices due to health-related concerns.

Because so many people were dealing with so many things at the time, the IRS moved its normal mid-April tax-filing deadline to mid-July in 2020, giving filers three extra months to submit their 2019 tax returns. But since it was such a chaotic time, many 2019 tax returns inevitably fell by the wayside.

At this point, the IRS estimates that nearly 1.5 million people have failed to submit a 2019 tax return and are missing refund dollars because of that. All told, the agency thinks taxpayers are owed $1.5 billion from 2019. But the clock is ticking down to get that money, so if you never filed a 2019 tax return, it pays to get moving quickly.

You still have time to get your tax refund

The IRS gives filers three years beyond when a given tax return is due to submit that return and request an associated refund. Since the tax-filing deadline for 2019 returns was pushed to July of 2022, those looking to file a return for that year can do so until July 17, 2023. But if you don’t submit your 2019 taxes by then, you’ll forfeit any refund you would’ve gotten.

Meanwhile, the IRS estimates the median unclaimed refund for 2019 at $893. So your refund may be more or less.

But the reality is that no matter what refund you’re due, you should make a point to arrange to have that cash hit your bank account rather than give it up. These days, many people are struggling to cover their bills due to inflation. So even if you’re only due a $100 refund from 2019, that’s an extra $100 you won’t have to charge on your credit cards .

There’s no penalty to worry about

You may be concerned that the IRS won’t take kindly to receiving your 2019 tax return three years late. But actually, when you’re due a refund from the IRS, there’s no penalty for being late with a return. The logic is that since the IRS gains financially in that scenario by getting to hang onto your refund for longer, it’s not going to then impose a financial penalty on you for being late.

When you’re late filing a tax return and you owe the IRS money, it’s a different story. But if you’re convinced you’re due a refund from 2019, it pays to get moving quickly. At this point, you have less than two months to claim money that could do a lot of good things for you.

The good news is that now that this year’s April 18 tax-filing deadline has passed, tax professionals are likely to be less swamped. So if you need help filing your 2019 tax return, you may be able to line someone up without a hassle.

We’re firm believers in the Golden Rule, which is why editorial opinions are ours alone and have not been previously reviewed, approved, or endorsed by included advertisers. The Ascent does not cover all offers on the market. Editorial content from The Ascent is separate from The Motley Fool editorial content and is created by a different analyst team.The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy .

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