The Deadline to Claim your 2009 Tax Refund is Fast Approaching!

If you haven’t filed your 2009 federal tax return, or need to amend that return because you didn’t claim all the available deductions, you still have time but you’ll need to act quickly. The IRS has $917 million in unclaimed refunds from an estimated 984,000 tax returns that people didn’t file for the 2009 tax year. The IRS estimates that half the potential refunds for 2009 are more than $500. And that doesn’t count all those who underreported their deductions, which is often a much higher number.

Keep in mind that you can file or amend ANYTIME, no matter how long it’s been since the return is due. But if you want to get the refund you must file the deadline.

Here are a few things to know about filing a 2009 return.

1. Not required to file. You may not have filed a 2009 tax return because you didn’t earn enough income to have a filing requirement. However, if you had taxes withheld from your wages, made quarterly estimated payments, or were entitled to refundable credits, you can still file a return and claim your refund.

2. Three-year window. You have three years to claim a refund. If you don’t claim your refund within three years, the money becomes property of the U.S. Treasury. For 2009 returns, the window closes on April 15, 2013. You must properly address, postmark and mail your return by that date. There is no penalty for filing a late return if you are due a refund.

3. Don’t miss the EITC. By not filing a return, you may miss an important credit — the Earned Income Tax Credit. For 2009, the credit is worth as much as $5,657. The EITC can put extra money in your pocket even if you paid no other taxes. But you have to file a return to claim the credit.

If you think you’re entitled to a refund for 2009, get the return prepared immediately. If you’re missing information for that year (like your W-2 or other tax documents), call the IRS at 800-829-1040 and request it or contact your tax preparer. Our office, for example, can obtain the records directly through the IRS online system. The key is to not delay. Once the deadline has passed, the refund is lost and becomes property of the IRS. So the time to act is now if you want the refund you’re entitled to.

By: Evan A. Nielsen, Esq. (Licensed in California)