Each year, millions of taxpayers miss out on getting money – in some cases, several hundred dollars – because they were due a refund but didn’t file a tax return, and their time to claim a refund ran out.

If you don’t file a return claiming a refund within three years, you lose it, and the money becomes the property of the U.S. Treasury. That’s three years from the original due date, usually April 15th.

You must file a tax return if your income is above a certain amount. That amount varies depending on your filing status, age, and the type of income you receive. You may choose not to file if you don’t have to, but if you had even a small amount of income, you may be due a refund, especially if you had federal taxes withheld from your pay. You may also be eligible for tax benefits like the earned income tax credit, which could be a few thousand dollars. The only way to claim this money is to file a federal income tax return.

Contact a professional tax preparer if you need to file prior year tax returns to get up-to-date and receive any refunds you’re owed. Remember the bottom line: it’s your money, but you have to file a tax return to claim it. You only have three years, so get started!

Get more information at IRS.gov/unclaimedrefunds.