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Your Money > Taxes

The IRS wants to give you money
Unclaimed refunds total $2.5 billion for tax year 2000. But time is running out to make your claim.
February 25, 2004: 5:15 PM EST

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) The IRS reported that there are unclaimed refunds totaling $2.5 billion from tax year 2000 and nearly 2 million people are owed money.

And it estimates that more than half of those individuals would receive more than $529 apiece.

The states where residents can expect the highest median refunds are: New Hampshire ($616), Connecticut ($602), and Illinois ($575). (Click here to see how your state ranks.) Those who were in the armed forces in 2000 will see an even higher median expected refund of $641. And taxpayers who lived abroad have the highest median refund of all: $1,000.

The only people who have unclaimed refunds are those who did not file a return with the IRS for 2000. Perhaps you didn't get around to it -- or you had too little income to require that you do so -- but you nevertheless had taxes withheld that year or made payments against your taxes from self-employed earnings.

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Also, if you didn't file a return but qualified for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) in 2000, you may be eligible to have a portion of that credit refunded to you if the EITC exceeded the tax you owed. To have been eligible for the EITC, you had to have earned less than $10,380 if you had no qualifying children; less than $27,413 if you had one qualifying child, or less than $31,152 if you had more than one qualifying child.

States with the highest number of taxpayers who didn't file returns in 2000 are: California, Florida, Texas and New York. Median unclaimed refunds in those states range from $496 to $570.

Since you only have up to three years to get your unclaimed refund, the window to make your claim for tax year 2000 will be closing this year. In order to get any money you're owed, you'll need to file your 2000 return by April 15. Otherwise, your unclaimed refund will go to the U.S. Treasury.

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Keep in mind, however, the IRS won't send you your check unless you also filed returns for tax years 2001 and 2002. And it will apply your refund first to any outstanding debt you owe Uncle Sam, any unpaid child support or any past due federal debt such as student loans.

(Click here to get copies of IRS forms and publications for prior tax years.)  Top of page

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