Tax refunds for 2020 are going, going, almost gone...

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Authored By: Iowa Legal Aid

"Don't lose your refund! Tax refunds for 2020 are going, going, almost gone..."

Tax time is almost here! If you have not filed a tax return for the past few years, now is the time to take care of it. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has rules about filing tax returns for previous years. If you believe you are owed a refund and didn’t file a return, the IRS only gives you 3 years to go back and claim that refund. The 3 years start on the date that the return was due.

For most individuals, the original due date for a tax return is April 15th.  If the deadline for filing falls on a Saturday, Sunday or holiday recognized in the District of Columbia, it is considered timely if the filing is mailed or delivered the next business day. In 2024, the filing deadline to file your 2023 tax return is April 15, 2024.

The IRS gives you three years from the original due date to let you claim any refunds you may have missed.  To be safe, file your 2020 return, and other overdue returns, well in advance of the deadline to make sure it is processed properly. Because 2020 federal returns were due May 17, 2021, you must file your 2020 return by May 17, 2024 in order to claim your refund.

If you do not file your return by the deadline, the IRS does not have to return any money to you. Even if you do not think you are entitled to a refund, it is important to file a return if you are required to. The IRS website has more information about who is required to file a tax return.  

Free tax preparation for prior years is available at some Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and AARP tax sites.In most areas, you can call 2-1-1 to find a program near you. If you need more than one year prepared make sure to tell the person scheduling your appointment because it will take more time. Most sites start scheduling appointments the last week of January.

If you have questions about your tax rights and responsibilities, Iowa Legal Aid’s Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC) may be able to help. To contact the clinic, call 1-800-532-1275.
This information is not a substitute for legal advice.

As a general rule, Iowa Legal Aid’s LITC does not prepare tax returns.


  • Iowa Legal Aid provides help to low-income Iowans. 
    • To apply for help from Iowa Legal Aid:call 800-532-1275. 
    • Iowans age 60 and over, call 800-992-8161 or 
    • apply online at


If Iowa Legal Aid cannot help, look for an attorney on “Find A Lawyer” on the Iowa State Bar Association website   A private attorney there can talk with you for a fee of $25 for 30 minutes of legal advice.
Last Review and Update: Feb 08, 2024
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