It's a constant battle for federal and state governments -- trying to give back unclaimed funds to residents.

In a recent news release, the Internal Revenue Service said that over a million Americans could miss out on their share of an estimated $1.5 billion in unclaimed tax refunds.

These refunds are actually for the 2019 tax year. So, if you didn't file for some reason in 2020, part of those unclaimed funds could be yours.

Tax refund illustration isolated on white background

"Many people may have overlooked filing a 2019 tax return due to the pandemic. We don’t want people to miss their window to receive their refund,” IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel said.

By law, taxpayers have three years to file taxes and claim a refund. If not, and they miss the deadline, that money goes to the U.S. Treasury instead.

The deadline usually falls around the April tax deadline, but the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the 2020 filing deadline to July 15.

The average tax refund that year was $893. However, taxpayers who haven't filed could actually receive thousands of dollars more if they qualified for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

That year the EITC, which is designed to help lower-income workers, was worth as much as $6,557.

Excited couple reading a letter at home

If I didn't file in 2019, what do I need to do?

The IRS recommends starting the filing process as soon as possible so you can gather any necessary documents. Taxpayers should reach out to their employer, bank or other payer for any missing forms for the years 2019, 2020 or 2021.

If there are any issues in getting those documents (such as W-2, 1098, 1099 or 5498) from an employer or other payer, taxpayers can order a free wage and income transcript at

Do keep in mind that checks may be held if taxpayers have not filed tax returns for 2020 and 2021, according to the IRS. Refund money will be used first to pay off any outstanding debts to the IRS or a state tax agency.

The money may also be used to pay off unpaid child support or past-due federal debts, including student loans.

How many people in Louisiana are due 2019 income tax refunds?

There are an estimated 22,000 individuals in Louisiana that may be entitled to a tax refund. The median potential refund is $877.

All total, Louisianians are owed $22,274,800 in potential refunds.

LOOK: States with the most people earning $1 million or more

Stacker examined Internal Revenue Service tax return data to see which states had the highest share of people who earned $1 million or more in 2019.

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