$15 million in refunds
awaits isle taxpayers

Star-Bulletin staff

The Internal Revenue Service says an estimated $14,964,000 is available for about 11,400 Hawaii residents who failed to file their 1999 federal income tax returns.

Across the country, refunds await about 1.9 million people totaling more than $2.5 billion, the IRS said last week.

"Time is running out. If you don't file a return, you can't get a refund," said acting Commissioner Bob Wenzel. "We urge taxpayers to double-check their records before the April 15 deadline. We want people to get the refunds they're entitled to."

A return must be filed no later than April 15 to collect the money, according to the IRS announcement Thursday.

About half of those who claim refunds would be getting more than $550, the IRS estimates.

Some people may have had too little income to require filing a tax return, although they may have had taxes withheld.

Those without taxes withheld may have been eligible for refundable Earned Income Tax Credit. When this credit exceeds an individual's tax, a refund may be due. But those filing returns more than three years late would only be able to offset their tax, and could not receive refunds.

The law allows a three-year period in which to claim a refund when a return is not filed. If no return is filed, the money becomes the property of the U.S. Treasury.

The IRS will not penalize anyone for filing a late return qualifying for a refund.

However, if taxpayers eligible for a 1999 refund have not filed their 2000 and 2001 returns, the refund will be applied to amounts owed to the IRS, and may also be used to satisfy unpaid child support or past due federal debts such as student loans.

Current and prior year tax forms are available at or by calling 1-800-TAX-FORM (1-800-829-3676). For help, call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040.

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