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Lane Keeter, CPA

Partner: Tax Consulting, Estate Planning, and Heber Springs Managing Partner

Time Running Out to Claim Tax Refunds for 2019

An estimated nearly 1.5 million people across the USA have unclaimed tax refunds for the year 2019 that they could be in danger of losing due to unfiled 2019 tax returns, according to the IRS. If that's you, you face a July 17 deadline to submit your tax return and claim your money!

The average median refund is $893 for that year, per a special state-by-state calculation the IRS did to show how many people are potentially eligible for these refunds. That means half of the refunds are more than $893 and half are less.

For Arkansas only, the median refund calculated to be slightly less at $864.

"The 2019 tax returns came due during the pandemic, and many people may have overlooked or forgotten about these refunds," said IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel. "We want taxpayers to claim these refunds, but time is running out. People face a July 17 deadline to file their returns. We recommend taxpayers start soon to make sure they don't miss out."

Under US tax law, you usually have three years from the return's original due date to file and claim tax refunds. If you don't file within three years, the money becomes the property of the U.S. Treasury.

But for 2019 tax returns, people have more time than usual to file to claim their refunds. Usually, the normal filing deadline to claim refunds falls around the April tax deadline, which is April 18 this year for 2022 tax returns. But the three-year window for 2019 unfiled returns was postponed to July 17, 2023, due to the COVID-19 pandemic emergency. 

Commissioner Werfel noted, "With the pandemic taking place when the 2019 tax returns were originally due, people faced extremely unusual situations. People may have simply forgotten about tax refunds with the deadline that year postponed all the way into July., We frequently see students, part-time workers and others with little income overlook filing a tax return and never realize they may be owed a refund. We encourage people to review their records and start gathering records now, so they don't run the risk of missing the July deadline."

By missing out on filing a tax return, some people stand to lose more than just their refund of taxes withheld or paid during 2019. Many low- and moderate-income workers may be eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). For 2019, the credit was worth as much as $6,557. The EITC helps individuals and families whose incomes are below certain thresholds. Those who are potentially eligible for EITC in 2019 had incomes below:

  • $50,162 ($55,952 if married filing jointly) for those with three or more qualifying children;
  • $46,703 ($52,493 if married filing jointly) for people with two qualifying children;
  • $41,094 ($46,884 if married filing jointly) for those with one qualifying child, and;
  • $15,570 ($21,370 if married filing jointly) for people without qualifying children.

One thing to know, if you file for a 2019 tax refund but have not filed tax returns for 2020 and 2021, your refund could be held until you file those returns. In addition, refunds will be applied to any amounts still owed to the IRS or a state tax agency and may be used to offset unpaid child support or past-due federal debts, such as student loans. Still, it's to your benefit to file even if the money is applied to such an obligation, as that helps you satisfy your liability that much sooner.

If tax forms are needed, you can find those at or by calling 800-TAX-FORM. And don't forget, the State has similar rules, so you need to file with your State as well.

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