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During my VITA/TCE training, a seasoned volunteer preparer described a scenario where a client had neglected to claim eligible credits for a number of previous years. The preparer corrected the oversight, even for returns that exceeded the three year deadline, and refiled the amended returns.

Apparently there was no complaint from the IRS, and they issued the amount due to the individual for all years.

So I'm falling in the camp of "try it anyway." What's the worst that happens?

In the case of the story you were told, the government sues for repayment of the erroneous refund. They have 2 years after the date of the check.

Unless a lot got lost in the translation, the seasoned volunteer ill served the client. Except in a somewhat bizarre Oprah scenario, there is no statutory authority for IRS to make a refund if no claim is made by the deadline. It would be nice if IRS never made a mistake, but then we wouldn't need the established law and procedures for getting the money back when someone finds the mistake down the road.

I strongly urge you to eschew the "try it and see what happens" approach.

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