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Time is running out for collecting unclaimed refunds

The slogan "it's refund season" is not lost on millions of Americans this time of year. The anticipation of a refund from the federal government causes scores of people to file their income tax returns. After all, a tax refund check is arguably the largest disbursement they will see all year besides their regular paycheck.

As good as it is to receive a refund, there are many people who forgo this surplus. The reasons are varied, but it is more than likely that they did not file a tax return in a previous year. This distinction is critical because the window to recover an income tax refund is closing. 

In essence, federal law gives most taxpayers three years to collect a refund from a particular tax year. This means that the eligibility to recover refunds coming from the 2012 tax year is closing quickly. The deadline to collect on such refunds is April 18, 2016 (because the filing deadline for 2012 taxes would was April 2013.)

According to a recent USA Today.com report, the federal government estimates that $1 billion in unclaimed refunds remains. The average refund is nearly $718.00. The government also encourages people who have not filed returns for 2012, including students, retirees and the impoverished to file returns so that they may have a chance to collect their refund.

Of course, the IRS requires that those seeking refunds file returns for the 2013 and 2014 tax years in order to be eligible for their 2012 tax refund. Additionally, any past taxes owed would be deducted from an income tax refund. 

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