Did you leave $500 from the IRS on the table?

Here’s the good news: If you worked in 2006 but didn’t earn enough that you were required to file a tax return, the IRS may have money for you. Nearly 19,000 Minnesotans may be in that boat and owed a total of $16 million.

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The bad news? You’re out of luck if you don’t try to get it by Thursday.

April 15 is more than just a deadline for your 2009 returns. It’s your last chance to file to get money owed you from 2006. According to the IRS:

Some people may not have filed because they had too little income to require filing a tax return even though they had taxes withheld from their wages or made quarterly estimated payments. In cases where a return was not filed, the law provides most taxpayers with a three-year window of opportunity for claiming a refund.

If no return is filed to claim the refund within three years, the money becomes property of the U.S. Treasury.

The IRS estimates a median refund of $552 awaits 18,900 Minnesotans, part of the $1.3 billion the IRS says it has unclaimed from people for 2006.

Besides a refund for taxes paid, the IRS also notes most cell phone users qualify for a one-time telephone excise tax refund from the 2006 return:

This special payment applies to long-distance excise taxes paid on phone service billed from March 2003 through July 2006. The government offers a standard refund amount of $30 to $60…

Beyond that, low income people who were employed in 2006 might not have claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit

So how do you know if you left money on the tax table in 2006?

Unfortunately, there’s no big list you can check like the “undeliverable funds” list the IRS does in the fall.

You’ll need to review your W2 and other forms to see if you had tax withheld that you didn’t claim because you didn’t file a return, or figure out if you qualified for the Earned Income Tax Credit but didn’t file a claim says regional IRS spokeswoman Carrie Resch.

Here’s a link to the 2006 1040 form you’ll need to fill out. It may be a pain but in the Great Recession it’s hard to walk away from $500. Time’s running out.

Worth noting: We learned about the unclaimed refund deadline by following the Twitter feed of Carrie Resch, the regional spokeswoman for the IRS for Minnesota and the Dakotas.

It’s a great place to find IRS info and you don’t need to be a reporter to follow it.

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