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Time to think about your 2006 taxes

That's not a typo in the headline. 

While most of us are working on (or thinking of working on) our 2009 taxes, some folks might want to make sure they filed their 2006 returns.

Tax-refund-check (2) It turns out that nearly 1.4 million individuals didn't get around to sending 2006 tax paperwork to the IRS by April 15, 2007. By neglecting to file, they've left a combined $1.3 billion in the U.S. Treasury.

And if they don't rectify that oversight by this coming April 15, they'll never get their hands on their rightful tax money. 

Yep, refunds left unclaimed for three years become Uncle Sam's property.

Now this isn't refund cash that simply wasn't delivered because the filers gave the IRS bad addresses. That money can be handed over to the taxpayer as soon as the agency gets the up-to-date information.

What we're talking about here is money that folks never asked the IRS to send them.

Lots left over: Taxpayers in every state, the District of Columbia and those serving in the military or living in a U.S. possession or territory are due refunds.

The median unclaimed refund for tax-year 2006 is $604. That means half of you will get a refund greater than that and half of you will get less. But any cash back from the government is good, right?

As expected, most of the unfiled returns come from the country's most populous states.

California has the most never-filed returns: 159,700 from tax year 2006 that account for a median estimated refund of $693.

The largest median refund amount is due taxpayers who are in the Armed Forces or who live in U.S. possessions or territories. In those cases, the check estimates are $821 and $887, respectively.

In the U.S. proper, New Hampshire filers are due the largest checks. The Granite State has a median average of $706.

Reasons for not filing: Some of the money belongs to people who didn't file because they didn't make enough to be required to do so. They did, however, have taxes withheld from their wages.

And the only way to get that money is to send in a 1040 (or in these cases, probably a 1040EZ).

There also could be a domino effect here. Some of the folks who didn't file a 2006 return might not have filed in subsequent years either. But, says the IRS, if you want that 2006 refund you must have filed in 2007 and 2008, too.

Basically, Uncle Sam is trying to get you up to date.

Other overlooked benefits: In addition to the refund amount, you might have cheated yourself out of some tax benefits.

Remember the telephone excise tax that was refunded to us via our 2006 filings? Well, if you didn't file, you didn't get your $30 or more back on this old tax.

Also, you might have been eligible to claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), the benefit for workers who don't make a lot of money.

In 2006, EITC money was available to eligible taxpayers who made less than $38,348 and had two or more children, earned less than $34,001 and had one child and who had no kids but brought home less than $14,120 a year.

File or fuggedaboutit! To get your refund and any possible add-on amounts, you must file your 2006 return by this April 15.

You can't e-file it. It must be sent by old-fashioned snail mail. You can go to the IRS' prior year returns section and download the proper 1040. Or you can call toll-free 1-800-829-3676 and request one.

If you need your old W-2 or other tax statements in order to fill out the past-year form, ask your employer and bank or other payer. If you can't get the info from those sources, you can request a free transcript showing information from those year-end documents by calling 1-800-829-1040, or by filing Form 4506-T, Request for Transcript of Tax Return, with the IRS.

But time is running out.  So get to work on your 2006 (and 2007 and 2008 and 2009) taxes now!

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The BS is that if you OWE the IRS money then you have to pay them even if it's over 3 years back. Now how is that fair?

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