This time of year, most of us are worrying about filing our 2005 taxes. Some people, though, need to think about their 2002 returns, too.
Around 1.7 million taxpayers didn't file returns for that tax year. That oversight means they didn't get the tax refunds they were due.
In total, $2 billion in unclaimed refund money is available to these folks. The median refund amount comes to $570, meaning that half of the checks will be larger and half smaller.
But these filers are pushing the procrastination boundary to its most extreme. They must file that old return by this season's filing deadline, which falls on April 17.
This is not the same money that gets returned to the IRS because it doesn't have the taxpayer's current address. This year, that's a separate, $73 million chunk of change and it will be paid out any time, regardless of how long it takes, that the IRS gets correct addresses for the taxpayers.
No, this $2 billion amount belongs to people who never claimed the money in the first place because they never filed their returns. And if they don't do so within three years of the original filing deadline, then the U.S. Treasury gets to keep their cash.
Since 2002 returns were due in April 2003, that means this April is the drop-dead date for them to claim the cash.
If you're among this group of nonfilers, I have one question. What the heck have you been waiting for?!?