Unclaimed IRS Payments: Can you get your check back if you don’t claim it?

There's over $1 billion in unclaimed IRS payments from the 2020 tax year sitting in the IRS's coffers, but the deadline is fast approaching.

Unclaimed IRS Payments: Over $1 billion in unclaimed refunds from the 2020 tax year are sitting in the IRS’s coffers, but the deadline for filing a claim is quickly approaching.

Approximately 940,000 Americans have until May 17 to submit their 2020 tax returns and claim their unclaimed funds, according to the IRS. The average refund is $932.

Often called “unclaimed funds,” unclaimed money or property can be an important financial resource.

Knowing where to look and how to claim money owed to you by businesses, financial institutions, or government agencies is crucial.

Governments are the primary source of unclaimed money, which may come from bank accounts, insurance policies, or state agencies.

You should begin by searching the websites of your state’s unclaimed property office and any other states where you have lived.

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Where can you find out what money you own?

  • The Department of Labor’s database is a good place to start if you believe you are owed back pay from a previous employer.
  • If you’re entitled to a pension from a former employer, you can search for unclaimed pensions through the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC).
  • Unclaimed insurance funds can also be found in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) database.
  • You can also check the HUD database for refunds of FHA insurance if you had an FHA-insured mortgage.
  • Track your tax refund using the IRS Where’s My Refund? tool if you haven’t received it.
  • You can also claim a recovery rebate credit if you were eligible for Economic Impact Payments (stimulus checks) but did not receive them.
  • Search for money from investment enforcement cases in the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) database.
  • The FDIC database can help you locate unclaimed funds from closed financial institutions, as well as unclaimed deposits from closed credit unions.
  • Visit TreasuryHunt.gov to find matured savings bonds and learn how to replace lost or destroyed savings bonds.
  • You can also search for money owed after a person or business declares bankruptcy using the U.S. Courts Unclaimed Funds Locator.

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How to claim my potential tax refund?

The IRS may owe you a refund if you file your 2020 tax return.

Here are some common documents you’ll need from the 2020 tax year:

An employer’s W-2 form provides information about your income from the previous year, including any taxes withheld.

In addition to freelance income, Form 1099 can be used to report any non-employer income, including interest income.

Using Form 5498, you can report your contributions to an individual retirement account.

A copy of these documents can be obtained from your employer or bank if you don’t already have them.

You can order a free wage and income transcript, which includes the documents you’ll need, from the IRS’s “Get Transcript Online” tool if you are unable to retrieve them that way.

Those unclaimed funds become the property of the U.S. Treasury after the May 17 deadline.

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