Roughly 32,100 Ohioans have until April 15 to claim their slice of an estimated $24.5 million in tax refunds left on the table from tax year 2010. After that, Uncle Sam gets to keep it.
The money comes from employers withholding money for income taxes, but the employees not filing for a refund to get them back. The Internal Revenue Service estimates that half of the refunds in Ohio are for more than $560.
IRS Spokeswoman Jennifer Jenkins said most of the people owed money are likely among the working poor and didn’t file because they didn’t realize money was owed. They may not have met the filing threshold, which is $10,000 for a single filer.
“They probably paid more, had more money withheld, than is required by law,” she said.
Many of these people could lose out on more than their refund. They could be among the 20 percent of Americans who qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit — which allows people to get more money back than they paid in — but didn’t claim it.
For 2010, the tax credit is worth up to $5,666. The threshold for 2010 for a household filing jointly with two children was $45,373.
“You may not be required to file a tax return, but it may benefit you to file because you may get money back,” Jenkins said.
There is no penalty if you file your 2010 tax return this year and you’re simply owed money from the government, she added.
The Internal Revenue Service holds onto unclaimed money for three years before it becomes property of the U.S. Treasury. Nationwide, almost $760 million is due to 918,600 taxpayers. Last year, Ohioans stood to lose $26.7 million unclaimed from 2009.
Jenkins directed people who may be owed money to gather their tax documents from 2010 and a tax form 1040EZ from the IRS website. Free tax assistance is available for many who qualify.
The United Way of Greater Cincinnati, for example, offers free tax filling help for those who made less than $52,000 last year, according to Lucy Crane, the director of community impact at the organization. Residents can get an individual consultation with a certified tax preparer at various locations throughout Butler County through the program if they bring in their financial records.
Crane said some people might not realize they can get money back from the government if they qualify for special tax breaks, such as a child tax credit. Last year, the service helped 18,000 people in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky file their taxes.
“United Way is about making sure people are financially stable,” Crane said. “Part of that is making sure you get all of the tax credits you deserve.”
United Way tax service locations in Hamilton and Middletown will stay open until the April 15 tax filing deadline.
Tax preparation experts note that people who filed a 2010 tax return also have until April 15 to file an amended return to grab money they left on the table.
People who aren’t sure if they claimed all available deductions or got their maximum allowable refund for 2010 can ask a tax professional, according to Barbara Benton, vice president of governmental affairs for the Ohio Society of CPAs.
“It can be a chunk of money,” she said.
By Josh Sweigart - Journal-News, Hamilton, Ohio (MCT)
©2014 the Journal-News (Hamilton, Ohio)
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