WASHINGTON — About 1.7 million people are missing out on more than $2 billion in refunds for taxes they paid three years ago, the Internal Revenue Service said Tuesday.
Many of them just never filed returns. It's not too late -- but the window to claim the money closes in nine weeks.
"As soon as you send us your tax return, you'll get your money," IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson said Tuesday. "But if you don't file, you won't get anything."
Taxpayers must act by April 15 to claim a refund for taxes paid in 2001. It takes a 2001 tax return, filed by mail, to get a late refund. There's no penalty for filing late to claim a refund.
People who unknowingly leave refunds unclaimed often worked less than a full-time, year-round job.
"They've had withholdings and they figure, 'I don't owe any tax, it's not a big deal,' " said William White, president of Online Taxes in St. Joseph, Mo.
In 2001, taxpayers younger than 65 weren't required to file if they were single and earned less than $7,450, or married and earned less than $13,400. Those 65 and older weren't required to file if they were single and earned less than $8,550 or married and earned less than $15,200, excluding Social Security.
Those due refunds might also include people who went through a major life change that year and put their taxes on hold.
Others might be low-wage workers who qualified but didn't claim the earned-income tax credit.
Individuals qualified for the credit in 2001 if they had two or more children and earned less than $32,121 or had one child and earned less than $28,281. Those with no children qualified if they earned less than $10,710.