IRS warns that $1.3bn in tax refunds could be lost - here’s the US states which are owed the most

IRS warns that $1.3bn in tax refunds could be lost - here’s the US states which are owed the most
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Notice has been served to American taxpayers that time is running out to claim more than $1.3 billion of tax refunds that lay unclaimed from the 2017 tax year. An estimated 1.3 million taxpayers who did not file a 2017 federal income tax return stand to miss out on money they are owed unless they file by the extended tax deadline of May 17.

According to Internal Revenue Service (IRS) estimates, the midpoint for the outstanding refunds is $865 — that means half of the refunds are for more than $865 and half are for less. If those that are owed fail to file a prior tax return for 2017, that money will become the property of the U.S. Treasury. The return must be properly addressed, mailed and postmarked by May 17 to qualify. 

"The IRS wants to help taxpayers who are due refunds but haven't filed their 2017 tax returns yet," said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. "Time is quickly running out for these taxpayers. There's only a three-year window to claim these refunds, and the window closes on May 17. We want to help people get these refunds, but they will need to quickly file a 2017 tax return."

The US states owed the biggest 2017 tax refunds

The agency also reveals that taxpayers in some states are owed far more in tax refunds than in others, providing an even bigger incentive for residents to acquaint themselves with the best tax software

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Top 10 states with the largest median potential 2017 tax refund - Source: IRS
State or DistrictEstimated number of individualsMedian potential refund
New Hampshire 5,900$968
North Dakota 3,600$958
New York 66,700 $956
West Virginia6,400$946
Wyoming 3,100 $944
Pennsylvania 50,900 $931
Connecticut13,200 $928
Washington 36,900 $928

How else could taxpayers miss out

The IRS also warns that by not filing a tax return, low- and moderate-income workers could miss out on Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which for 2017 was worth up to $6,318. 

The relevant EITC thresholds for 2017 were:

  • $48,340 ($53,930 married joint filers) for those with three or more qualifying children;
  • $45,007 ($50,597 married joint filers) for people with two qualifying children;
  • $39,617 ($45,207 married joint filers) for those with one qualifying child, and;
  • $15,010 ($20,600 married joint filers) for people without qualifying children.

Anyone about to file for the first time and Americans who are eligible for the COVID-related relief provided by stimulus checks but wouldn’t normally file are also reminded of the need to file a 2020 tax return to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit, which will make good on money they may have missed out on under the first and second stimulus payments. 

Tim Leonard

With over 20 years’ experience in the financial services industry, Tim has spent most of his career working for a financial data firm, where he was Online Editor of the consumer-facing Moneyfacts site, and regularly penned articles for the financial advice publication Investment Life and Pensions Moneyfacts. As a result, he has an excellent knowledge of almost areas of personal finance and, in particular, the retirement, investment, protection, mortgage and savings sectors.