IRS owes Arizonans $36 million

Stephanie Paterik The Arizona Republic Feb. 24, 2006 12:00 AM

The taxman is sitting on $36.4 million that belongs to Arizonans - that is, if they claim it by April 17.

The Internal Revenue Service estimates it owes more than $2 billion to 1.7 million people nationwide who did not file tax returns in 2002. About 39,000 Arizonans did not file and stand to gain a median return of $472 for that year.

"Hopefully they will file," said Bill Brunson, spokesman for the IRS in Arizona. If they do not file by the deadline, "they forgo any ability to claim that refund, and it stays in the U.S. Treasury." advertisement

Fifteen states have larger unclaimed piles of money than Arizona. California taxpayers stand to gain the most, $218.8 million, followed by Florida, Texas, New York and Illinois. The ranking does not factor in population.

Some people don't file because they earn so little that they are not required to. Others put it off because of personal situations such as death or divorce.

Brunson said the IRS likely owes taxpayers more than is being reported because of the earned income tax credit, designed to help the working poor.

Even people who owed no taxes in 2002 could be eligible for a return if they meet the criteria and file.

Reach the reporter at stephanie or (602) 444-7343.

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