Did you file a return back in 2004? If not, you might want to put aside your 2007 taxes for a bit and get to work on the older 1040. You could end up with some added tax cash.
Once again, reports the IRS, millions of taxpayers are in danger forever losing refunds simply because they didn't file a return to get the money back.
In some cases, individuals had taxes withheld from their paychecks or made tax payments on self-employment earnings, but they had too little income to require filing a tax return that year.
But filing is the only way to get back that prepaid tax cash. And if these folks ignore the task for three years, then the Uncle Sam gets to keep their money. No questions asked. Permanently.
For 2004 returns, that three-year filing window will slam shut next Tuesday, April 15, 2008.
The amount of unclaimed 2004 tax money we're talking about? Around $1.2 billion owed to 1.3 million uber-procrastinators. The IRS estimates that half of those who could claim 2004 refunds would receive more than $552.
File your old return now! If you think you might be entitled to some of that money, fill out a 2004 return (you can download the 1040 of your choice here) and get it postmarked and en route to the IRS by next Tuesday.
Don't worry that you didn't file all those years ago. There's no penalty for filing a late return where a refund is involved.
However, you must have filed returns in 2005 and 2006 to get the 2004 money. If you need to file those, too, you can download those years' forms here.
And if in the subsequent years you ran up a tax or other government debt, such as unpaid child support or past due student loans, your 2004 refund will go toward those amounts first. Any leftover then will be sent to you.
You can read more about the unclaimed refunds in this IRS release. The announcement also has details on the earned income tax credit. If you were eligible three years ago for this tax benefit created to help lower-income taxpayers, claiming it on your 2004 return could increase the refund amount you might be owed.
The IRS also has put together a a state-by-state breakdown so you see how many filers in your state didn't file three years ago.