The IRS Has $1.5 Billion in Unclaimed Tax Returns. You Have Less Than a Week to Claim Yours

If you never got your refund from your 2018 tax return, your time is running out to get the cash that's rightfully yours.

a Black couple looks over their taxes happily
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The Internal Revenue Service is sitting on a massive chunk of money, and some of it might be yours. If you are one of the almost 1.5 million people who neglected to file a tax return in 2018, you might have a refund waiting for you, but the time is almost up to claim it.

Any taxpayer owed a refund must claim it within three years of the year those taxes were filed. If you were due a refund in 2019 on your 2018 taxes, the window to claim your cash is closing fast—April 18th, tax day, is the last day to file your 2018 taxes and get what’s owed to you. If not, the U.S. Treasury will claim your money as its own, and you can kiss that cash goodbye forever.

Who is eligible for a 2018 refund?

If you filed your 2018 taxes in 2019 and claimed your refund, you aren’t eligible. This money is for those who didn’t file in 2019 for whatever reason and are owed a refund. Remember that just because you did not file in 2019 doesn’t mean you automatically get a refund. You could still owe the IRS—it all depends on your unique tax situation. And there will likely be penalties associated with late filing that might eat up some of your refund.

How much will my refund be?

According to a recent update, the IRS is holding on to close to $1.5 billion in unclaimed 2018 tax refunds. The average refund owed is around $813, but yours could be lower or higher. If you did not file in 2019 or 2020, you should go ahead and do that, too, just to ensure the IRS doesn’t tack those penalties onto your 2018 refund. Similarly, if you owe the government money for back taxes, delinquent student loans, or overdue child support, they can take it from your refund.

Refund amounts are different for all taxpayers and are determined by your income, tax credits, deductions, and IRA or 401(k) contributions. If you did not pay enough taxes throughout the year, either through employer withholding or self-paid quarterly taxes for the self-employed, you might owe the IRS instead of the other way around, and unfortunately, there’s not really a foolproof way to tell in advance what your refund or tax bill will be.

How Do I File My 2018 Taxes?

There are a number of ways to file your taxes these days besides mailing a paper return. The IRS prefers e-filing, which is available through do-it-yourself services like TurboTax and H&R Block. For some low-income filers or those whose tax return is simple, you can file for free on the IRS website.

All you need to do is dig out your 2018 W2 forms and any other associated tax documents like 1099s that show additional income or 1098s that show interest and tax paid to other entities throughout the year. For more complicated returns, you should definitely sit down with a CPA or other tax professional to make sure you check all the boxes!