What’s the deadline to claim tax refunds from 2020? 

According to the IRS, close to 940,000 people have yet to claim their refunds from 2020, which collectively is over $1 billion. Now, as the 2024 tax season comes to an end, taxpayers still have the chance to claim their money back – but time is running out.

Traditionally, taxpayers have a three-year window to file taxes and receive refunds before forfeiting them. However, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the IRS extended tax-related deadlines, giving taxpayers an extra year to file their 2020 returns and claim refunds.

The deadline for taxpayers to claim these unclaimed refunds is now May 17. For those who have not yet filed for the 2020 tax year, the IRS estimates an average refund of approximately $932, excluding potential additional deductions or credits. 

Eligible taxpayers can still access the Recovery Rebate credit, including the third government stimulus payment, which was distributed in 2021 during the pandemic.

Before filing for 2020 taxes and reclaiming refunds, taxpayers should be aware that access to refunds may be restricted if 2021 and 2022 taxes still need to be filed. 

This makes it more important for taxpayers to maintain up-to-date filings to ensure receipt of all refunds. Furthermore, any unclaimed refunds following the filing of 2020 taxes may be applied towards outstanding federal or state tax obligations.

Additionally, taxpayers should ensure they possess all necessary documents for tax filing. In cases where employers are unable to provide older tax documents, the IRS offers two alternative methods: an online transcript or a written request for a wage and income transcript. 

According to the IRS commissioner: “There’s money remaining on the table for hundreds of thousands of people who haven’t filed 2020 tax returns. We want taxpayers to claim these refunds, but time is running out for people who may have overlooked or forgotten about these refunds. 

There’s a May 17 deadline to file these returns so taxpayers should start soon to make sure they don’t miss out. 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. 

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.” 

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