WASHINGTON ? Unclaimed income tax refunds totaling almost $1.5 billion may be waiting for an estimated 1.5 million taxpayers who did not file a 2018 Form 1040 federal income tax return, but people must act before the April tax deadline, according to the Internal Revenue Service.

“The IRS wants to help people who are due refunds but haven’t filed their 2018 tax returns yet,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “But people need to act quickly. By law, there’s only a three-year window to claim these refunds, which closes with this year’s April tax deadline. We want to help people get these refunds, but they need to file a 2018 tax return before this critical deadline.”

The IRS estimates the midpoint for the potential refunds for 2018 to be $813 — that is, half of the refunds are more than $813, and half are less.

In cases where a federal income tax return was not filed, the law provides most taxpayers with a three-year window of opportunity to claim a tax refund. If they do not file a tax return within three years, the money becomes the property of the U.S. Treasury. For 2018 tax returns, the window closes on April 18, 2022, for most taxpayers. Taxpayers living in Maine and Massachusetts have until April 19, 2022. The law requires taxpayers to properly address, mail, and ensure the tax return is postmarked by that date.

The IRS reminds taxpayers seeking a 2018 tax refund that their checks may be held if they have not filed tax returns for 2019 and 2020. In addition, the refund will be applied to any amounts still owed to the IRS or a state tax agency and may be used to offset unpaid child support or past due federal debts, such as student loans.

By failing to file a tax return, people stand to lose more than just their refund of taxes withheld or paid during 2018. Many low- and moderate-income workers may be eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). For 2018, the credit was worth as much as $6,431. The EITC helps individuals and families whose incomes are below certain thresholds. The thresholds for 2018 were:

  • $49,194 ($54,884 if married filing jointly) for those with three or more qualifying children;
  • $45,802 ($51,492 if married filing jointly) for people with two qualifying children;
  • $40,320 ($46,010 if married filing jointly) for those with one qualifying child; and
  • $15,270 ($20,950 if married filing jointly) for people without qualifying children.

The tax year 2018 returns must be filed with the IRS center listed on the last page of the current Form 1040 instructions. Current and prior-year tax forms (such as the tax year 2018 Form 1040, 1040A, and 1040EZ) and instructions are available on the IRS.gov Forms and Publications page or by calling toll-free 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676). However, taxpayers can e-file the tax year 2019 and later returns.

Taxpayers who are missing Forms W-2, 1098, 1099, or 5498 for the years 2018, 2019, or 2020 should request copies from their employer, bank, or another payer. Taxpayers who are unable to get missing forms from their employer or another payer can order a free wage and income transcript at IRS.gov using the Get Transcript Online tool. Alternatively, they can file Form 4506-T to request a wage and income transcript.

A wage and income transcript shows data from information returns received by the IRS, such as Forms W-2, 1098, 1099, Form 5498, and IRA contribution information. Taxpayers can use the information from the transcript to file their tax returns.

State-by-state estimates of individuals who may be due 2018 income tax refunds

State or DistrictEstimated Number of IndividualsMedian Potential RefundTotal Potential Refunds*
Alabama24,474$796$23,028,940
Alaska5,515$969$6,185,637
Arizona38,182$718$33,577,964
Arkansas13,727$762$12,567,925
California148,938$776$139,660,163
Colorado30,836$787$28,979,238
Connecticut15,020$864$15,243,386
Delaware5,764$793$5,486,810
District of Columbia4,011$802$3,967,443
Florida98,979$818$94,578,672
Georgia51,034$735$46,467,229
Hawaii8,199$873$8,317,290
Idaho7,026$686$5,982,194
Illinois55,767$840$54,850,831
Indiana34,770$839$33,534,332
Iowa14,843$840$14,255,896
Kansas14,813$822$14,125,094
Kentucky20,030$836$19,137,456
Louisiana24,292$793$23,609,986
Maine5,851$772$5,241,197
Maryland30,224$814$29,637,361
Massachusetts32,234$908$33,569,901
Michigan49,252$812$47,228,525
Minnesota22,685$771$20,920,613
Mississippi13,007$730$11,753,943
Missouri33,858$783$31,284,396
Montana4,914$758$4,560,800
Nebraska7,647$809$7,204,243
Nevada17,919$792$16,896,077
New Hampshire6,755$920$7,022,858
New Jersey39,046$872$39,628,243
New Mexico9,893$804$9,613,090
New York77,315$896$79,825,137
North Carolina50,069$776$45,990,818
North Dakota4,011$893$4,139,793
Ohio56,285$793$51,974,509
Oklahoma21,529$824$21,075,857
Oregon23,552$715$20,729,323
Pennsylvania59,459$865$58,993,909
Rhode Island4,011$893$4,099,614
South Carolina18,063$720$16,288,951
South Dakota3,872$858$3,718,677
Tennessee30,693$788$28,459,178
Texas145,616$856$147,059,248
Utah11,644$757$10,648,614
Vermont3,089$832$2,905,786
Virginia41,663$776$39,285,545
Washington42,272$863$43,022,251
West Virginia6,968$880$7,146,354
Wisconsin21,753$755$19,535,856
Wyoming3,258$912$3,486,358
Totals1,514,627$813$1,456,503,511

* Excluding credits.


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