RI, Mass. taxpayers owed $37M in unclaimed tax refunds


EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Time is running out for taxpayers to claim $1.4 billion in income tax refunds for 2015.

According to the IRS, an estimated 1.2 million people who did not file a federal tax return for 2015 are owed money but must claim it within three years of the original filing deadline, or it will become property of the U.S. Treasury.

The deadline to claim a 2015 federal tax refund is this year’s tax deadline, which is Monday, April 15, for most people. Taxpayers in Massachusetts and Maine have until April 17 to file their taxes.

“Students, part-time workers and many others may have overlooked filing for 2015,” IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig said in a statement. “We’re trying to connect over a million people with their share of $1.4 billion in potentially unclaimed refunds for 2015.”

Data from the IRS shows an estimated 3,300 Rhode Islanders are owed $4,025,000 and an estimated 26,100 Massachusetts taxpayers are owed $32,579,000.

Nationwide, the median potential refund for 2015 is $879.

East Providence tax preparer Paul Pliakas said taxpayers who are owed money should not be concerned about penalties.

“If you don’t file on time and you’re owed a refund, there are no penalties because the penalties are based on how much you owe,” Pliakas explained. “If what you owe is nothing, then the penalty is nothing.”

Refund checks may be held if a taxpayer has not filed tax returns for 2016 and 2017, according to the IRS. The agency also said refunds may be applied to past due federal debts or unpaid child support.

Susan Campbell (scampbell@wpri.com) is the Call 12 for Action and Target 12 consumer investigator for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.

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