If you have an unclaimed tax refund, you will have three years to submit a claim to the IRS or your state revenue department to request old tax returns. For example, if you have a tax refund owed to you from the 2020 tax year, you will have until 2023 to request a refund. After that holding period, you automatically forfeit the money that was owed to you, and there will be no way to retrieve the funds, no matter the circumstances.
The best way to find unclaimed tax refunds is to check with the IRS and any state governments where you have lived and filed (or should have filed) a tax refund. To check for IRS unclaimed funds, you can visit the IRS website and use the “Where’s my Refund?” tool.
To use this tool, you will need to provide your filing status, Social Security Number, and your refund amount. Once you submit this information, the website will inform you of the bank account and routing number that was used and whether or not the deposit was made.
If you do not know the amount of your refund to utilize the IRS “Where’s my Refund?” tool, you can look up a tax return online with most tax-filing companies and software. You will need to check with the company that you filed your return with for more details. However, if you do not know who you filed a return with and you still cannot find the information needed for the “Where’s my Refund?” tool, you can contact the IRS for more details.
Searching for an unclaimed tax refund for a state return follows a similar process. To check if you have unclaimed tax money, contact your state’s Department of Revenue. Most state departments have tools similar to “Where’s my Refund?” online, and you will usually need to provide similar information to learn more. Again, if you are unable to get help online or you are still unsure if money is owed to you, then you may contact your state’s agency directly for more details.
In addition to the above state methods, there are other ways you can check for unclaimed tax refund money. For example, you can utilize the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, which provides information about unclaimed assets owed to you, including refunds.
Do you have an unclaimed tax refund? Continue to the next slide to learn how to request a lost IRS refund check or state refund.