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Time is running out to claim your 2002 tax return.

The IRS has millions of dollars to return to tax payers for the 2002 tax year.

To collect, though, they must file a return for 2002 with an IRS office by April 17, the date the three-year window to file will end. There is no penalty assessed for filing a late return that qualifies for a refund.

The IRS reminds taxpayers seeking a 2002 refund that their checks will be held if they have not filed tax returns for 2003 or 2004. In addition, the refund will be applied to any amounts still owed to the IRS and may be used to satisfy unpaid child support or past due federal debts such as student loans.

Current and prior year tax forms and instructions are available on IRS Web site (www.irs.gov) or by calling 1-800-TAX-FORM (1-800-829-3676). The IRS advises hurricane victims who need help with unclaimed refunds to contact the IRS on the special toll-free Katrina disaster line at 1-866-562-5227.

In addition to the unclaimed refunds, the IRS also is encouraging this year’s filers to check and see whether they are eligible to receive the Earned Income Tax Credit — especially families in the lower income brackets. For the 2005 tax year, the credit’s income limits increased significantly, especially for married taxpayers filing jointly. New provisions also are easing the tax burden on last year’s hurricane victims.

Nationally, between 75 percent and 80 percent of taxpayers are eligible for the credit. More than 165,000 families received $270 million from the credit last year.

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