The IRS has $1 billion in tax refunds waiting for one million taxpayers who failed to file a federal income tax return for 2011 – and they’re pretty decent amounts. 

The IRS estimates that half of the refunds are for more than $698.

How can I get my refund? Taxpayers who are owed refunds can get them by filing their 2011 tax return by April 15 of this year. Miss the date and you won’t get your money. The law gives taxpayers a three-year window to claim their refund. After that, they forfeit the money to the federal government.

Is there a penalty? There is no penalty for filing a late return that qualifies for a refund.

Is there a catch? If you did not file taxes for 2012 or 2013, your refund check may be held. Also, if you owe the IRS or the state, your refund may be used to pay off those debts. It also could be used to offset unpaid child support or student loans, for example.

Can I get help with filing? Visit your tax preparer. He or she can help you file past years’ returns and your 2014 return, so you will meet the April 15 tax filing deadline for both.

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