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Daily Q&A: Does federal law require Americans to file a tax return even if they don't owe any taxes?

Is it true that the IRS can't come after you for failing to file a tax return if it owes you a refund. Does federal law require Americans to file a tax return even if they don't owe any taxes?

First, filing a tax return is not based on whether the Internal Revenue Service owes a person money. Tax payers are required to file a return based on income.

Dan Boone, a spokesman for the IRS, said there is no penalty for filing a refund return late, but there is a three year window for submitting for the refund. "If you don't claim it, it goes to the federal government."

For Florida, the IRS identified 101,700 individuals who appeared to be due $110,709,000 in refunds for tax year 2006. They would have had to file by April 15, 2010 to claim those refunds, Boone said.

The law does allow the IRS to prepare a tax return for an individual if the agency determines a person should have filed. But that usually occurs after several notices to the person.

To check whether you should have filed a return based on income, visit:

Question for the Consumer's Edge? Send it to or Questions are answered only in this daily feature.

Daily Q&A: Does federal law require Americans to file a tax return even if they don't owe any taxes? 04/21/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 21, 2010 5:25pm]
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