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... is it too late to apply for a refund for taxes paid in 1996.

The instructions for Form 1040X include the following statements under "When to File":

Generally, Form 1040X must be filed within 3 years after the date you filed the original return or within 2 years after the date you paid the tax, whichever is later. A return filed early is considered filed on the due date.

A Form 1040X based on a bad debt or worthless security generally must be filed within 7 years after the due date of the return for the tax year in which the debt or security became worthless. For more details, see section 6511.

A Form 1040X based on a net operating loss carryback or a general business credit carryback generally must be filed within 3 years after the due date of the return (including extensions) for the tax year of the net operating loss or unused credit.

So if you're talking about taxes for the tax year 1/1/1996 to 12/31/1996, since the original tax return would have been due in April 1997, you should still have time.

But if you're talking about a return filed in 1996 for the tax year 1995, you may be several months too late...

Hope this helps!
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