Tax Deadline & Unclaimed Refunds (May 2021)

Tax Tips

Tax Deadline & Unclaimed Refunds

By Michael Aston, E.A.
Alhambra Tax Center


The deadline to file your 2020 tax return is May 17, 2021 (and extensions too).

There’s roughly 1 million people who are owed around $1.3 billion dollars in refunds for taxable year 2017. If you haven’t filed your 2017 income tax return, your statute expires on May 17, 2021. That means, you lose the refund.

According to the IRS bulletin here are some facts about unclaimed refunds:

·       The unclaimed refunds apply to people who did not file a federal income tax return for 2017.

·       Some people, such as students and part-time workers, may not have filed because they had too little income to require them to file a tax return. They may have a refund waiting if they have taxes withheld or if they qualify for certain tax credits.

·       The law generally provides a three-year window to claim a tax refund. For 2017 returns, the window closes on May 17, 2021.

·       The IRS must have your tax return by May 17, 2021, proof of delivery is suggested.

·       After three years unclaimed refunds become property of the U.S. Treasury. There is no penalty for filing a late return if the taxpayer is due a refund.

·       The IRS may hold 2017 refunds if taxpayers have not filed tax returns for 2018 and 2019. The U.S. Treasury will apply the refund to any federal or state tax owed. Refunds may also be held to offset unpaid child support or past due federal debts such as student loans.

·       Taxpayers who are missing forms W-2, 1098, 1099 or 5498 for prior years should ask for copies from employers, banks or other payers. Taxpayers who can’t get these copies can request a wage and income transcript either at or by mail. Taxpayers can also file a Form 4506-T to get a transcript.

·       The three-year window usually applies to a refund from an amended return. In general, you must file a form 1040X Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, within three years from the due date you filed the original return. That means the deadline for most people to amend their 2017 tax return and claim a refund will expire May 17, 2021.

The State of California has a four (4) year statute (and the IRS has a three-year statute). The deadline to file for a refund for your 2016 California return was April 15, 2021. Just like the IRS – use it or lose it.

For more information you can go to for the federal return, for the California return or speak to your tax professional.