Today, the IRS dropped a press release bomb stating they have $1 billion in refunds from 2011 stashed away in their sock drawer, just waiting for one of a million people to show up and claim it. They estimate that half of the potential refunds are more than $698.
Before I move on, can I comment on the math? $1 billion for 1 million people ends up being $1,000 per person, yet only half of the refunds are estimated to be more than $698. For the other half to be less than that amount means a few people are ignoring a pretty big chuck of change.
And what’s with the $698 number? The word “estimate” is thrown around like a rubber ball at a dodge ball tournament, yet the IRS couldn’t bring themselves to tick up to $700? I wonder whose to blame for such a specific estimate: a group of huddled accountants in the windowless vaults of the IRS underground bunker unwilling to use the rounding feature on Excel, or a nerd with thick glasses waiting to expose the insidious $2 difference.
If you’re curious how to get a piece of that $1 billion pie, all you have to do is file your 2011 return by April 15, 2015. And have filed your 2012 and 2013 return, if you’ve been too lazy to get around to that. And not have any unpaid child support or past due federal debts.
Which brings me around to the Statute of Limitations. If you don’t file a tax return to claim your refund within 3 years, it automatically goes into Uncle Sam’s Pool Renovation fund. Yet the IRS can go after you twenty years from now if you didn’t file your return and pay in your fair share.
That’s because, according to tax law, the Statute of Limitations doesn’t start for you UNTIL you file your return, but it starts for them right away. How fair is that?
Asking the government to sit on $1 billion dollars until every potential recipient is dead does seem a little ridiculous. Though if they invested it right, it might help pay off the government deficit we’ll undoubtedly leave to our grandkids. Assuming Skynet hasn’t made politicians obsolete by then.