Approximately a million people still haven’t filed their 2008 tax return and the IRS isn’t rushing to find them. That’s because, in aggregate, these late filers are owed $1 billion from the government in unclaimed tax refunds. If the related returns are not filed by April 17th, this amount is forfeited by the individuals and retained by the government.
The IRS estimates that the median owed per return is $600. So why aren’t these individuals filing? Many weren’t required to, because their income was below the threshold amount. But whenever any taxes are withheld or you think you might be eligible for a tax credit, it makes sense to file a return and make sure you aren’t owed money back.
There are a few requirements to getting your return, one of which is proving you don’t owe additional amounts for the interim years or other federal debts. For instance, you need to have filed your 2009 and 2010 returns to convince the government that the overall flow of funds should not be in their direction. Not surprisingly, the IRS prefers to err on its own side.