Skip to content

IRS Says You Have Until May 17 to Get Unclaimed Refunds: "Money on the Table"

The agency has more than $1 billion in unclaimed compensation.

Tax season is officially behind us—well, sort of. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is beginning to issue tax refunds to those who withheld too much money from their paychecks and to self-employed individuals who overpaid their estimated taxes. No matter how you slice it, taxpayers can all agree that receiving a hefty check in the mail feels like a huge win. And for some people, an oversight from 2020 could mean a refund this year.

According to the IRS, the government agency is holding onto more than $1 billion in unclaimed tax refunds because 938,800 people have yet to file their appropriate documents for the 2020 tax year. It's estimated that the average median refund is $932.

RELATED: IRS Data Shows Exactly How Likely You Are to Get Audited.

Data from the IRS shows that Texas is leading the pack with an estimated 93,400 unfiled tax returns that total upwards of $107 million. California isn't too far behind, with an estimated 88,200 unfiled returns that are worth a collective total of $94 million. In third and fourth place are Florida and New York, with 53,200 and 51,400 unfiled returns, respectively. At fifth is Pennsylvania, with 38,600.

"There's money remaining on the table for hundreds of thousands of people who haven't filed 2020 tax returns," IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel said in a press release. "We want taxpayers to claim these refunds, but time is running out for people who may have overlooked or forgotten about these refunds."

In most circumstances, individuals have three years to file and claim their tax returns. However, the year 2020 was by no means typical. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the IRS pushed the April 15, 2024 deadline to May 17, 2024, giving tax filers an extra month-long cushion to sort out their returns.

Now that the deadline is just weeks away, the IRS is warning taxpayers that they "should start soon to make sure they don't miss out." Money that isn't collected by the May 17 deadline will go into the U.S. Treasury's piggy bank.

"People faced extremely unusual situations during the pandemic, which may have led some people to forget about a potential refund on their 2020 tax returns," Werfel said.

He continued, "People may have just overlooked these, including students, part-time workers and others. Some people may not realize they may be owed a refund. We encourage people to review their files and start gathering records now, so they don't run the risk of missing the May deadline."

In order to file your 2020 tax return, you'll need key documents like Forms W-2, 1098 (for mortgage interests), 1099 (for freelancers and other independent contractors), and 5498 (for individual retirement accounts). These can be obtained through your employer and bank, per the IRS.

The agency says taxpayers can also request free wage and income transcripts using the official Get Transcript Online tool.

Just remember to have everything in by that May 17 deadline or else you may be missing out on hundreds of dollars back in your pocket.

Best Life offers the most up-to-date financial information from top experts and the latest news and research, but our content is not meant to be a substitute for professional guidance. When it comes to the money you're spending, saving, or investing, always consult your financial advisor directly.

Emily Weaver
Emily is a NYC-based freelance entertainment and lifestyle writer — though, she’ll never pass up the opportunity to talk about women’s health and sports (she thrives during the Olympics). Read more
Filed Under
 •  •
Sources referenced in this article
  1. Source: