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Claim Your 2009 Tax Refund Before It Disappears

Stacks of U.S. one-dollar bills are arranged for a photograph in New York, U.S., on Monday, Feb. 4, 2013. Stocks tumbled the most this year and the euro slid while Spanish bond yields surged amid renewed concern about Europe's debt crisis. Ten-year U.S. yields lost six basis points to 1.96 percent. Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg via Getty Images
(Scott Eells/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Usually, taxpayers do everything they can to get their tax refunds as quickly as possible. Surprisingly, though, they've left more than $900 million on the table, and the IRS is poised to permanently grab that money next month unless they do something about it.

The IRS reported on Thursday that nearly 1 million taxpayers never filed a 2009 return, leaving a total of $917 million in tax refunds unclaimed.

The amounts involved are fairly large in many cases, with about half of the unclaimed refunds estimated to involve $500 or more. California and Texas had the biggest number of unfiled returns, but people from every state and the District of Columbia are on the list.

If you're concerned that you'll get in trouble for being so late, don't be. As long as you're due a refund, you won't owe any penalties.

With a three-year window to file returns, time is running out. Taxpayers who want to file returns that were originally due on April 15, 2010 have only until this April 15 to do so, or else they'll no longer be eligible to receive their refunds.

What You Might Have Missed

Part of the problem is that many taxpayers don't realize that even if they aren't required to file a return, they still need to do so in order to claim refunds that are owed to them. One of the biggest items people miss out on is the Earned Income Tax Credit, which can provide refunds even if you don't have any income tax liability.

If you're concerned that you'll get in trouble for being so late with your returns, don't be. As long as you're actually due a refund, you won't owe any penalties for filing a late return, as the calculations for determining a tax penalty are based on the tax you owed.

So if you never filed a 2009 tax return, be sure to look into whether you could get a tax refund back if you filed. Otherwise, what should be free money coming back to you will end up going to the federal government instead.

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Cities with the Lowest Tax Rates

The total amount of tax you pay reaches far beyond what you owe the federal government. Depending on where you live, most likely you're required to pay additional taxes, including property and sales tax. The disparity between the amount of tax you pay in a low-tax city and that in a high-tax city can be dramatic. Living in any of these 10 cities could save you a bundle, although the exact amount may fluctuate based on your income and lifestyle choices.

Cities with the Highest Tax Rates

Much ado is made in the press about federal tax brackets, but cities can carry a tax bite of their own. Even if you live in a state that has no income tax, your city may levy a variety of taxes that could eat away the entire benefit of living in an income tax-free state, including property taxes, sales taxes and auto taxes. Consider all the costs before you move to one of these cities, and understand that rates may change based on your family's income level.

Great Ways to Get Charitable Tax Deductions

Generally, when you give money to a charity, you can use the amount of that donation as a deduction on your tax return. However, not all charities qualify as tax-deductible organizations. While there are many types of charities, they must all meet certain criteria to be classified by the IRS as tax-deductible organizations. There are legitimate tax-deductible organizations in many popular categories, such as those listed below.

A Freelancer's Guide to Taxes

Freelancing certainly has its benefits, but it can result in a few complications come tax time. The Internal Revenue Service considers freelancers to be self-employed, so if you earn income as a freelancer you must file your taxes as a business owner. While you can take additional deductions if you are self-employed, you'll also face additional taxes in the form of the self-employment tax. Here are things to consider as a freelancer when filing your taxes.

Tax Deductions for Voluntary Interest Payments on Student Loans

Most taxpayers who pay interest on student loans can take a tax deduction for the expense ? and you can do this regardless of whether you itemize tax deductions on your return. The rules for claiming the deduction are the same whether the interest payments were required or voluntary.

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hi mrs thang

I say if it is not claimed it should be put toward the national debt.

March 19 2013 at 12:48 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Robert Barzini

I have a better questions that the rest of these humanoids are NOT asking!! Where did that $917 MILLION go??? Whose pocketbook got that? Will this ever be investigated? What's next, OUR Social Security checks???

March 18 2013 at 8:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

$917 million!!! If no one clams it, I think it should be split up and given back to the tax payers.

March 18 2013 at 6:51 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply

what's happening

March 17 2013 at 11:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

You have a 3 year window to claim your money that was automatically deducted. With a tax code you need someone to translate for you. Isn't that thoughtful of the government? Or is it by design to get more revenue?

March 17 2013 at 12:24 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply