The IRS claims that refunds totaling just over $917 million may be waiting for an estimated 984,400 taxpayers who did not file a federal income tax return for 2009. The IRS estimates that half the potential refunds for 2009 exceed $500.

To collect a refund from that year, a return for 2009 must be filed no later than April 15. The law provides most taxpayers with a three-year window of opportunity for claiming a refund. If no return is filed to claim a refund within three years, the money becomes the property of the U.S. Treasury. There is no penalty for filing a late return qualifying for a refund.

The IRS also reminded taxpayers seeking a 2009 refund that checks may be held if they have not filed tax returns for 2010 and 2011. In addition, the refund will be applied to any amounts still owed to the IRS or their state tax agency, and may be used to offset unpaid child support or past due federal debts such as student loans.