By Johnny Jackson
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has announced that more than one million taxpayers nationwide still may be eligible for refunds totaling $1 billion. Some 37,000 of them reside in Georgia.
IRS Spokesman Mark Green said the eligible taxpayers are those who did not file a federal income tax return for 2007. He said some may not have filed because they had too little income to require filing a tax return, even though they had taxes withheld from their wages or made quarterly estimated payments.
"College students are the bulk of those," said Green. "A lot of times, students think, if their parents claim them, they can't get anything back themselves. But you can still get a portion, if you had withholdings on your W-2, and are owed a refund."
Green said more than $35 million in unclaimed refunds from the 2007 filing season is available to Georgians. Those people can only collect the money by filing a 2007 return with the IRS by midnight on Monday, April 18, 2011.
"Time is running out if you want to get your refund," he said. "In cases where a return was not filed, the law provides most taxpayers with a three-year window of opportunity for claiming a refund. If no return is filed to claim the refund within three years, the money becomes property of the U. S. Treasury."
The IRS estimates that half of Georgia's potential refunds from 2007 are worth $590 or more, on average. The other half, Green added, are likely to be refunds for college students who worked part-time jobs.
"Here in Georgia, a good amount of the taxpayers will be students," explained Green. "The larger amounts generally fall into the category of individuals who did not file a return, but qualified for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)."
Green said many low-and moderate-income workers may not have claimed the EITC, which helps individuals and families whose incomes are below certain thresholds. In 2007, the income threshold was $39,783 for those with two or more children, $35,241 for people with one child, and $14,590 for those with no children.
While the law requires that returns be properly addressed, mailed and postmarked by April 18, there is no penalty for filing a late return qualifying for a refund, said the IRS spokesman.
"The biggest penalty is waiting until April 19, 2011, and realizing you could have received a refund or an Earned Income Tax Credit from your withholdings," he said.
Green acknowledged, however, that the IRS reminds taxpayers seeking a 2007 refund that their checks will be held if they have not filed tax returns for 2008 and 2009. He said the refund will be applied to any amounts still owed to the IRS, and may be used to offset unpaid child support or past due federal debts, such as student loans.
"We want all taxpayers to file a tax return and get the refund they're due," Green said. "Taxpayers should review their 2007 statements for refundable credits and withholdings [which can be found on their W-2 Form or 1099 Statement]."
The IRS has current and prior year tax forms and instructions available on the Forms and Publications page of IRS.gov, or by calling toll-free 1-800-TAX-FORM (1-800-829-3676).
Green said taxpayers who are missing Forms W-2, 1098, 1099 or 5498 for 2007, 2008 or 2009 should request copies from their employer, bank or other payer. Taxpayers can get a free transcript showing information from these year-end documents by calling the IRS at 1-800-908-9946, or by filing Form 4506-T, Request for Transcript of Tax Return, which is also available at IRS.gov.