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Long Island

Clock ticks for unclaimed 2007 tax refunds

About $50 million in unclaimed 2007 federal tax refunds for thousands of New Yorkers would be turned over to the government if the money isn't claimed by April 18.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he hopes the money isn't forfeited.

The New York Democrat also said Sunday taxpayers still could get credit for college-tuition payments from 2009.

"It pays to go back and file a return retroactively," Schumer said at a news conference at his Manhattan office Sunday. "To put that money in your pocket, where it belongs, not in some vault in Washington."

The law provides most taxpayers with a three-year window of opportunity for claiming a refund. However if no return is filed in time, the money remains in the U.S. Treasury, permanently. This year, April 18 is the deadline to file 2010 taxes -- three years past the filing deadline for 2007 taxes.

On Long Island, 9,151 individuals are eligible for more than $11.4 million in refunds from 2007. Schumer said the average refund nationally is $706.

"This is not like getting $10 in the mail," Schumer said. "The average refund is $706 that could go to next month's mortgage payment, next semester's tuition, maybe to take that vacation you've been longing to take."

To be eligible to get money back from 2007, a return must be filed.

"Time is ticking," Schumer said, "after that, the money that should go to you will line Uncle Sam's pocket instead."

Another way New Yorkers can pocket some retroactive money is through unclaimed college tax credits from 2009, Schumer said.

In 2009, Schumer authored a law that says if a resident makes less than $170,000, they are eligible to get up to $2,500 in tax credits for college-tuition payments. But Schumer said less than 50 percent of eligible families claimed the credit on their 2009 taxes. Residents in New York City, Long Island, and the lower Hudson Valley are estimated to have up to $593,131,248 in unclaimed tax credits from their 2009 tax filings. On Long Island, $121 million of taxpayer money is at stake.

Schumer reminded residents to take the tax break this year, too. "The problem is not that it's a nice generous tax credit, it is, but too many people still don't know about it," he said.

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