The Internal Revenue Service is holding more than $11 million in unclaimed refunds for about 10,600 Hawaii residents who failed to file 1997 income tax returns.
And time is running out to collect the money.
Federal law generally provides taxpayers with three-years to claim a refund. That means taxpayers have until April 16 to file their 1997 returns.
IRS Commissioner Charles O. Rossotti said money not refunded within three years generally becomes the property of the U.S. Treasury.
The IRS estimates about half of those who could claim refunds would receive less than $486.
Even those who did not have taxes withheld from their paychecks may be eligible for the refundable Earned Income Tax Credit, the IRS said. Also, some who had too little income to require filing a tax return may have had taxes withheld from their wages, tax officials said.
But the agency said taxpayers seeking a 1997 refund will have their checks held if they have not filed tax returns for 1998 or 1999.
The refund also will be applied to any amounts still owed to the IRS and may be used to satisfy unpaid child support or past due federal debts, such as student loans.
There is no penalty assessed by the IRS for filing a late return that qualifies for a refund.
Current and prior year tax forms are available on the IRS Web site, www.irs.gov, or by calling 1-800-829-3676.
Taxpayers who need help may call the IRS help line at 1-800-829-1040.
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