SALT LAKE CITY — The Internal Revenue Service is looking for 6,500 Utahns who have a potential $5.4 million worth of refunds to claim.

Nationally, refunds totaling more than $917 million may be waiting for an estimated 984,400 taxpayers who did not file a federal income tax return for 2009, according to the IRS.

However, to collect the money, taxpayers must file a return for 2009 by no later than Monday, April 15. There is no penalty for filing a late return qualifying for a refund, said IRS spokesman Bill Brunson.

The IRS estimates that half the potential refunds for 2009 are more than $500.

“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,” Brunson said. “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 a refund within three years, the money becomes property of the U.S. Treasury, he said. The law requires that the return be properly addressed, mailed and postmarked by that April 15 date, he added.

The IRS reminds taxpayers seeking a 2009 refund that their checks may be held if they have not filed tax returns for 2010 and 2011. In addition, the refund will be applied to any amounts still owed to the IRS or their state tax agency, and may be used to offset unpaid child support or past due federal debts such as student loans.

By failing to file a return, people stand to lose more than a refund of taxes withheld or paid during 2009, Brunson said.

“Many low- and moderate-income workers may not have claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit,” he explained. “For 2009, the credit is worth as much as $5,657.”

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