One of the most common types of unclaimed funds – that is, assets that belong to someone who cannot be located by the paying entity – is tax refunds. This happens more frequently than you might think. In fact, each tax year there are nearly 100,000 refund checks returned by the post office as undeliverable. To recover an unclaimed tax refund that happened for this reason, you can use this IRS form.

It’s also possible to be owed tax refund dollars that you cannot access yet simply because you did not file your taxes yet, or because they were filed improperly or incompletely, which happens for a variety of reasons. In this case, the following frequently asked questions are helpful in understanding how to proceed if you believe you have discovered an unclaimed income tax refund from a year in which you failed to file.

Q: Can I claim for unfiled returns?

A: No. The only way to have a valid tax refund claim from the past is to have filed an official tax return for the year in question. It’s entirely possible that you are owed money but, absent an official filing, the IRS will not consider your claim. Moreover, you will not be able to locate such information in official unclaimed funds searchable databases. So, if you have a hunch you are owed money from a particular tax year, be sure you have filed an original return before you try to claim the refund.

Q: Can I claim a refund for an amended tax return?

A: Yes, but there is a time limit for doing do. You have three years from the time of filing to amend a tax return and correct errors that accidentally enhanced your income and, thus, your taxable amount paid. So, if you think you are owed an unclaimed tax return due to an error in filing, you’ll have to initiate a refund claim within three years of filing. This is done by filing an amended tax return.

(Note: The IRS will not issue a full refund if the amount you’re requesting exceeds the total amount of taxes you paid in the previous two years preceding your refund claim.)

Q: I know I’m owed a tax refund, but I missed the window for filing due to impairment or disability. What are my options?

A: Some people know they have an unclaimed tax return available to them, but they simply couldn’t file their taxes for the year in question due to physical or mental impairment or disability. The IRS makes concessions for this scenario so that you can still claim your unclaimed refund after the traditional tax filing deadline. To qualify, though, you must prove you were impaired or disabled for at least 12 months and that you were unable to manage your personal financial affairs. This will usually require a written statement from your physician.

Whether you have an unclaimed tax refund check waiting for you in the IRS’ accounts or you need to do more paperwork for a check to be issued, it’s important to claim the tax refund money that is owed to you. Use the IRS as a resource in getting to the bottom of your issue so that you can enjoy the money that is owed to you by law.

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