Washington (Feb. 7, 2003) -- Unclaimed refunds worth more than $2.5 billion await about 1.9 million people who failed to file a 1999 income tax return, the Internal Revenue Service announced Thursday. However, in order to collect the money, a return must be filed with an IRS office no later than April 15, 2003.

The IRS estimates that about half of those who could claim refunds would receive more than $511. Some individuals may have had taxes withheld from their wages but had too little income to require filing a tax return. Others may not have had any tax withheld but would be eligible for the refundable Earned Income Tax Credit.

"Time is running out. If you don't file a return, you can't get a refund," said Acting Commissioner Bob Wenzel. "We urge taxpayers to double-check their records before the April 15 deadline. We want people to get the refunds they're entitled to."

If no return is filed to claim the refund within three years, the money becomes the property of the U.S. Treasury. For 1999 returns, the window closes on April 15, 2003. There is no penalty assessed by the IRS for filing a late return qualifying for a refund. However, the IRS reminded taxpayers seeking a 1999 refund that their checks will be held if they have not filed tax returns for 2000 or 2001.

-- Electronic Accountant Newswire staff

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